Written in partnership with Fear Free.
The time surrounding Fourth of July can be stressful for pets. Fireworks start going off every night on the days leading up to and after the big holiday. If you put yourself in your pet’s paws, can you blame them for being scared?
To them, fireworks are sudden and random loud bangs and flashes of light. And since their ears are far more sensitive than ours, fireworks can be especially bothersome. Luckily, pet parents can take steps to try and help keep dogs and cats calm in the days surrounding the Fourth of July.
Dr. Natalie Marks (DVM) and our friends at Fear Free have a ton of tips to help your pets cope during this stressful time. This video from Dr. Marks is extremely helpful when it comes to getting your dogs ready to deal with fireworks. We’ve also gathered a few other do’s and don’ts for helping pets stay calm during fireworks.
- Don’t force your dog to sit though fireworks displays, this only heightens their fears.
- Don’t tie up dogs outside or leave them alone in a fenced yard. When dogs are scared, they’ll do anything to escape. If they are tied up, they run the risk of panicking or choking while trying to get away from the bangs and booms.
- Don’t yell or punish a scared dog. Doing so only disrupts the human-animal bond you both worked so hard to build. Yelling also increases your pet’s anxiety.
- Don’t give your pet medicine to help deal with firework anxiety without talking to your vet first.
- Do make sure your pet is microchipped and has ID tags on. More pets run away on the Fourth of July than any other day of the year and having these updated with your most recent contact information can make all the difference if your pet runs away.
- Do tire your pet out during the day. Spend a little extra time exercising and playing with them, so they’re more likely to be tired and calm at night when the fireworks start.
- Do consider using pheromones to help your pet relax. You can buy synthetic versions of naturally occurring pheromones that help pets feel more comfortable in their environment. You can spray them on items such as bandanas, clothes, blankets, and pet beds, or get a plug-in version in the room where your pet feels most safe. Spray your pet’s belongings or plug in your device an hour or two before the fireworks start. Pheromones help pets relax while boarding or traveling, too, and can help to lessen any separation anxiety they may be experiencing.
- Do prepare your pet. Try gradually getting them used to the noises by playing audio or videos of fireworks the days leading up to the Fourth of July. Start with the sound at a very low volume and increase it. While it’s playing, give your dog treats or play with a favorite toy, so they can associate the noise with something positive.
- Do keep your pet indoors in a quiet place. When the show starts, take your pet to the innermost part of your home and close the windows (if it’s not too hot). Turn the lights and music on so you can try and drown out the noise and lights. Distract your pet with play and treats. And if you’re worried you may be rewarding your pet’s fear, don’t be – you’re simply readjusting their fear mode to a playful mode.
- Do talk to your vet about other options. Every pet is different, and the suggestions above may not work for your pet. If you’re worried, express your concerns to your vet. They will help you find the right solutions for your furry friend, which in some cases could be a prescription medication.
Once you find what works for your pet, you can use these tips all summer long, since we know fireworks are not always limited to the days surrounding the Fourth of July. We hope you have a safe and enjoyable holiday with your family!