Whether the event is New Years Eve, Fourth of July or just a celebration, fireworks, flashing lights and loud booms can be pretty scary for many cats and dogs. So how do you keep your pet calm on July 4th amidst all the noise and flashes of light?
Did you know that more dogs run away on the evening of the 4th of July than any other day of the year?
Studies have shown that almost half of dog owners reported that their dog showed at least one behavioral sign typical of fear when exposed to noises. This fear can begin in puppies or surface in middle-aged or older dogs. In houses with multiple pets, fear can spread as learned behavior from one pet to another.
Dogs and cats have pretty sensitive hearing, and, unless they are oblivious to loud noises and flashing lights, you can wind up with your pet under your feet, in your lap or on your head pretty fast.
Try these tips for keeping both you and your pet calm on July 4th or any other evening where celebrations occur.
- Stay at home. Taking your pet to a fireworks display is not a good idea. Stay at home with them. The comfort and security that you can offer them will make a difference, despite the fact that it may appear that nothing will calm them.
- Stay on schedule. On the day of the celebration, keep to your pet’s schedule as much as possible. Pets can sense a change in schedule and that can bring on feelings of anxiety.
- Tire them out. Give your dog or cat plenty of exercise before the fireworks begin. Tiring them out may encourage them to rest during the show. Also, make sure they are have an opportunity to do their business so you don’t have to take them outside later.
- Bring them inside and close all the doors, windows and shades before the merriment begins. Although that won’t eliminate the noise, it will help to bring it down a notch.
- Make some noise of your own – turn up the television or music. Turn on the fans. Although your pet’s hearing is better than yours, the sounds may be a distraction and lessen their attention on the booms they hear outside.
- Create distractions. If you can redirect the focus off of the loud noises and flashes of light by playing laser tag or tug of war with your pet, then great. Pick a game with lots of interactions and talk to them all the while you play.
- Watch out for signs of distress like change in behavior, lack of interaction, pacing, excessive grooming, labored panting, shaking, drooling, crying, barking, spraying, scratching, nausea, aggression or loss of bladder control, pooping or or changes in appetite.
- Don’t discourage or discipline them for their behavior. Abnormal actions such as peeing, pooping, licking, chewing are reactions to stress. Be understanding of these mishaps.
- Give them places to hide if that is what they want to do. Their pet crate, your bed, a closet, the basement or the shower can offer security for your pets. It can be confining if they are comfortable with it. Hide with them if you can fit.
- Wrap them up in a blanket with your scent on it or a large t-shirt if they will let you. The bundling can lessen anxiety in some dogs.
- Lavender is a great scent for calming both you and your pet. You can find it in oil, lotions, air fresheners and other products. Apply it to a towel and wrap your pet in it.
- Be a role model. Your behavior will play a large part in your pet’s comfort. Stay calm yourself and don’t reinforce their fear by going overboard with comfort. Long strokes and even tones are best.
- Consider training. An animal behaviorist may be able to help your pet conquer its fears. Additionally, you can work with your dog using background noise resembling thunderstorms while offering treats and engaging your pup in various games. Over time, they will make the connection when they hear loud noises.
- ID your pet. Make sure your pet has ID tags on their collar with your cell phone number. Better yet, microchip your pet and register your information in the manufacturer’s database. Always keep that information current. Speak to your vet about rabies vaccination registration.
- What else to do? You can try pheromone diffusers and calming collars which may or may not work. If you feel that your pet suffers despite your efforts, you can talk to your vet about a tranquilizer, Benadryl or an all natural pet calmer.
- When the fireworks are all over, tell them so. “All done” is something everybody understands.
- Give them a treat to celebrate and have a great holiday together.
Hopefully, these tips for how to keep pets calm on July 4th will help you both get through the merriment.