Written by Melissa Viera
Pet owners’ know that along with packing the beach towels and snacks they must also prepare their four-legged friends for a safe Fourth of July. While some animals are not bothered by the pops and bangs of firework displays others can suffer from extreme anxiety and even become a danger to themselves. We have all heard the horror stories of dogs jumping through glass windows or tearing through doors in an attempt to escape the loud noises. It is unfortunate that these types of incidents are not uncommon this time of year.
What Can a Pet Owner Do?
Prepare Before the Fireworks Begin
Well before the fireworks begin decide on which room will best block out the sounds, and create a sanctuary for your dog in that room. Even with the doors locked and windows shut there are still ways dogs can hurt themselves. If you are planning to head out and you have concerns about your dog being left alone ask a relative or friend if they will stay with your dog. Not everyone goes to watch the fireworks, and some people will be more than happy to spend the evening hanging out with your dog. If you do decide to get a pet sitter be sure to talk with them ahead of time about how they can help your pet during the fireworks.
Music and Sounds
Make a playlist for your dog to help relax them. Just like with people, music can also be soothing to animals. Find songs that you think are calming like classical music. Look for music with instruments like the piano or harp. There are also cd’s on the market made just for dogs that you could try. The next best thing is to keep the tv or radio on.
Ditch the Food Bowl
Instead of feeding your dog from their bowl, stuff multiple kong toys and other toys to keep your dog occupied. Prepare the toys ahead of time so you have them on hand.
Provide your dog with plenty of toys and options for enrichment. A nervous dog will not be interested in playing, but you can still set up an enriching environment in case your dog does decide to play.
Try to avoid changing things too much. If you are worried about your dog and start to change your routine too much this could cause them more anxiety. Show your dog that there is nothing to worry about by remaining calm.
Body wraps can be a very helpful calming tool. If you do decide to use a product like the Thundershirt try it out before hand, and be sure you don’t only use the shirt when something scary is about to happen. Make it a positive thing so your dog does not learn that if the shirt comes out something bad will happen.
Always provide your dog with plenty of water. Set out multiple bowls of water in a few different locations. If you know your dog will be pacing or moving a lot try a spill proof bowl.
Block Out All of the Commotion
Keep your blinds and shades down.
Care for All of Your Critters
We tend to think of dogs when it comes to fireworks season, but these tips can be used with all of your critters. I have found that for my rabbit, the best thing to do is to leave her in her pen, and cover it with towels over the sides so she feels secure. I also keep her cool and provide her with plenty of hay and toys.
When to Seek Professional Help
Some pets just need extra care to keep them be more comfortable during fireworks, but if your pet is suffering from extreme noise phobia or any phobia you should always consult with your veterinarian and work with a professional to help your pet.
Thank you for reading, and I hope you find some of these tips helpful over the holiday weekend. Happy Fourth of July! Have a fun and safe holiday!