Enjoying the 4th of July is great fun for many, the beautiful fireworks, games, and gathering with friends and family. But it can be a cause for panic and fear for many dogs and cats. Humane Societies all across the country prepare for the 4th of July due to the mass amounts of animals that come in lost and disoriented from the fear of the fireworks, many humane societies saying that the number of strays or lost dogs more than doubles just in this one night. It is important that we do our part to safeguard our loved pets and keep them safe and comfortable during this stressful time of year.
- Ensure that your pet is appropriately ID’d. A collar with an ID tag or name plate with the pet’s name and most importantly a contact number is a great option. Microchipping is a very important form of identification as it allows your pet to be identified by any humane society and veterinary hospital in the country, even if they are found without a collar.
- Get your pet exercise early. Take your dog for a walk or run earlier in the day to help get out some energy. Designate some playtime with your cat to exercise their mind and body. Before you settle in for the evening, walk your dog outside again; make sure you have a secure collar or harness and leash. Walking with them will help release a bit of energy, aid them in unwinding, and offer them time to relieve themselves before the stressful fireworks event begins.
- Keep your pet inside. Starting the evening before the night’s fireworks event, keep your dog inside in a secure room with closed windows and doors. This will help with minimizing the noise level from neighborhood firecrackers, make them more comfortable as they are in a familiar environment, and reduce the possibility of running or an escape.
- Comfort your pet. If you are able to stay home to comfort your dog, this will help them greatly. Spend time with them in their safe space which you have created, use a calming and soothing voice. You can try playing “white noise” whether by using a fan, turning on the TV, or music. The noise distraction may help keep your pet more at ease. Keep in mind that in order to help, you must remain calm and grounded yourself to create a sense of well-being and safety for your pet.
- Pheromones. Remember your feline and canine pheromones! Adaptil and Feliway are designed for situations such as this to help reduce the fear, anxiety, and stress around a given situation, in this case, fireworks. The synthetic pheromone activates the brain in the same way that puppies’ brains are activated when nursing, and when cats rub their cheeks across a surface, to create an overall sense of safety and wellbeing.
- Weighted blankets or Anxiety Wraps. East Bend Animal Hospital carries a product called ThunderShirts that offers a consistent pressure around the dog’s body somewhat like a hug. This pressure dramatically reduces the dog’s anxiety and makes a difference in 80% of dogs. ThunderShirt also offers a version for cats.
- Medications and supplements. You may also consider reaching out to your veterinarian regarding prescription anti-anxiety medications or over-the-counter supplements that come trusted and recommended for our friends that have a harder time calming down. Your veterinarian will be able to create a regimen designed specifically for your pet.
Regardless of the methods you decide to incorporate or additional support you give, always keep in mind that our love and support is exponentially valuable to our furry friends. Create a safe, familiar space for your pet, and accompany them if you are able. Take the time to bond with your pet, play a game or watch a movie. Above all, have fun, stay safe, and during this stressful night, make sure your pet feels loved, safe and supported.
Written by: Harriet Burquist