With July Fourth celebrations approaching, you may be worrying about your pet. Loud fireworks and crowded gatherings can be stressful for pets, causing anxiety and fear. Fortunately, you can minimize your pet’s stress. Our Parker Center Animal Clinic team shares six tips to help keep your pet calm and safe during July Fourth fireworks and festivities.
#1: Recognize noise aversion signs in pets
Noise aversion, which includes fireworks fear, is common in pets, with more than one-third of dogs affected, and many more undiagnosed. When they hear their trigger sound, noise-averse pets become fearful and anxious, and show signs similar to a human experiencing a panic attack. Stress and fear are mentally challenging, and panic can cause pets to become destructive or worse, running away. When they hear their trigger sound, a noise-averse pet can exhibit a range of anxiety signs, including:
- Lip licking or yawning
- Hiding or attention seeking
- Urination or defecation
- Becoming destructive in an attempt to run away
If your pet displays these signs when loud noises are present, talk with your veterinarian to learn how you can help your furry pal remain calm during holiday fireworks. Your pet may benefit from a short course of anti-anxiety medication or sedatives. While noise aversion cannot be cured, you can help your pet cope with this condition long-term by ensuring they receive multimodal treatment, including environmental management, behavior modification, and medications.
#2: Exercise your pet before the fireworks begin
Exercising your pet before the fireworks begin can help reduce their anxiety. A tired pet is less likely to be stressed or anxious during a fireworks display. To help them burn off some energy and feel calm, take your pet for an extended walk or play fetch with them long before the fireworks begin. In addition, your pet may be afraid to go outside to eliminate during a fireworks display, so take them outside to take care of business before the ear-splitting booms begin, and prevent them from having an accident in the house
#3: Create a calm environment for your pet
Because panic overwhelms pets, they often escape their home or yard during a fireworks display. Keep your pet indoors, and minimize their exposure to the loud sounds from fireworks and noisy crowds by creating a quiet and safe environment such as in a bathroom or small bedroom with few windows. In addition, soothing music, a quiet television program, or white-noise tracks can muffle the offensive sounds outside.
#4: Provide distractions for your pet
Interactive toys and long-lasting treats can distract your pet and reduce anxiety during stressful times. Activities that encourage chewing, licking, or sniffing soothe and satisfy your pet while encouraging relaxation. Some good distractions include:
- Hiding treats throughout a room
- Scattering treats on a snuffle mat or rug
- Stuffing a Kong or similar hollow toy with a pet-safe food
- Smearing a soft spreadable treat on a textured lickable mat, which is best for nondestructive pets, cats, and flat-faced (i.e., brachycephalic) dogs
#5: Use calming aids to comfort your pet
Many pet calming tools are available that can provide your noise-averse pet with extra support and comfort. Try these pet calming aids:
- Calming vests — A calming vest, such as a ThunderShirt, is similar to a weighted blanket that many people enjoy. These garments apply constant, gentle pressure to your pet’s body, helping them feel secure and reducing their anxiety. In addition, calming vests are adjustable, so they fit your pet’s body snugly.
- Calming sprays and diffusers — Pheromones are chemical messages pets share that promote security and comfort. Calming pheromones are added to many sprays and diffusers and can help relieve your pet’s stress. Mist your pet’s bedding or a bandana with the spray, or treat the entire room with a diffuser.
#6: Ensure your pet’s identification is up-to-date
If your pet becomes lost or runs away during a July Fourth celebration, ensure they wear a collar with up-to-date identification (ID) tags as well as a permanent microchip. Microchipping is a simple and effective way to help ensure that your pet can be reunited with you if they become lost.
July Fourth can be a stressful time for pets, but by following these tips, you can help minimize their anxiety and keep them safe. With a little preparation, you and your furry friend can enjoy a safe and stress-free holiday together. Ensure your pet is microchipped before the big bang day by scheduling this quick and easy procedure with our Parker Center Animal Clinic team.