The 4th of July may be one of our favorite holidays, but it can also be a pet's worst nightmare. You might wonder why your beloved pup, unaffected by the rumble of thunder, is suddenly beside herself at the loud booms and pops of a fireworks display. Many pets are accustomed to the natural sound of thunder in the sky, but fireworks sounds occur closer to the ground and therefore may elicit a much different response. This leaves many pet owners wondering, how can I reduce my pet's anxiety during 4th of July fireworks? We've collected a few helpful tips and tricks to keep your dog calm on our country's birthday.
Can I see some ID?
Despite their human companions' best efforts, more pets run away the 4th of July than any other day of the year. Make sure your pet has a snug-fitting collar and tags with your updated contact information; if they are microchipped, double check that the county's database has your current information as well.
This is crucial step in ensuring your pet's comfort. If your pet already has a crate, kennel, or carrier they love, just add a warm blanket or towel, a few of their favorite toys, and a sheet over the top. If not, your furry friend probably still has a favorite hiding spot. Whether that's under the bed or behind the couch, make sure the space is clean and quiet during your 4th of July festivities. You can even place a few of your worn clothes in your pet's safe space; they will find comfort in your familiar smell.
Practice Makes Perfect
Did you know you can train your pet to tolerate the sound of fireworks? In the days, weeks or even months leading up to the holiday, play a recording of firework sounds at increasingly louder volumes. Immediately follow the sounds with an activity your pet enjoys: play with her toys, feed her treats, go for a walk or even just give her a good belly rub.
Walk it off
Just like you hit the gym after a stressful day, your pet can expend physical energy to their calm anxious mind. Take Fido for a walk - the longer the better - before the fireworks begin. That will leave him with less energy to spend worrying about the loud noises.
Once you're inside, give him a puzzle toy, a tasty piece of rawhide, or a KONG treat-filled chew. Some pets won't be interested in earring with all the commotion outside, but others will be happily occupied. Try different toys and activities to see what works best for your pet.
Lead by Example
Animals are extremely sensitive to the emotions of their human companions. If you remain calm and show that there is nothing to be concerned about, your pet will likely follow suit. On that note, it's important to pay attention to your pet's emotional state. Your vet can prescribe medications to sedate your pet during stressful times, but they must be administered while your pet is in a relaxed state. If he's already pacing the floor, his anxiety will overrule the medication. The same goes for use of a thunder shirt, designed to slow the animals breathing; it won't help if he's already panting heavily.
However you choose to celebrate the holiday, it's important to remember your pet is not like a child missing out on the fun. That's your very human guilt nagging when you close him in a quiet room, away from the excitement and festivities. You're actually protecting him from a stressful experience, and he will thank you in wet kisses!