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Fireworks and Pets: How to Keep Your Pet Calm During Celebrations

2020-06-23

Approximately 50% of pets show signs of anxiety during fireworks, and an untold number feel the fear without displaying any outward behaviors. As humans, we know what fireworks are and that they are no threat. Animals, on the other hand, have no idea what is going on and often become disoriented and scared. Our pets experience the world through what they see, hear, smell, and feel. The flashing lights of fireworks, the sound of explosions, the smell of smoke, and the feeling of the ultrasonic soundwaves shaking the air and ground with no knowledge of why makes fireworks frightening business for them.

Signs of anxiety in dogs include barking and whining, hiding, pacing, excessively seeking attention, cowering or shaking, and lip licking and yawning. In extreme cases, dogs with severe anxiety can experience their “fight or flight” sense triggered and act out aggressively or feel the need to run so strongly that they go through a window or a glass door. Anxiety in cats often manifests in urination and defecation outside of the litter box, hiding, aggression, excessive meowing, excessive attention-seeking, or vomiting. Extreme anxiety in cats can also trigger the fight or flight sense, leading them to try to escape through uncovered air vents, windows, or open doors.

Check out this list for methods you can try to help ease your pet’s anxiety during upcoming Independence Day celebrations.

Exercise the body and brain

It is a good idea to plan for a little extra exercise and play on the 4th during the day. Tired pets will most likely experience less anxiety simply because they are pooped! For your dog, try adding an extra walk to your day, work on commands and tricks, or try a faster-paced walk. For cats, try a new wand toy or interactive treat dispenser.

Create a safe place to hide

Make some space under the bed, in the closet, or the bathroom for your pet to seek refuge should they feel the need to. You can make the space feel more homely with their bed, blankets, and cuddly toys. Your pet LOVES you, so an article of clothing that you have recently worn can also have a calming effect. Consider leaving a t-shirt with your scent on it in the space they like to hide. Cats love to wedge themselves into areas that are almost too small for them, so keep that in mind when building a spot for your kitty.    

Make sure all windows and doors are securely closed with blinds or curtains drawn

Windows and doors will help to muffle the sounds, and blinds and curtains will help with the flashing lights. Open windows and doors could provide an escape route during the panic, so it is essential to make sure all exterior doors and windows are securely latched.

Soft music or TV to help drown out the sound

From nature documentaries to classical music, anything soft, repetitive, and flowing could help with firework anxieties. If you must leave your pet alone during celebrations, the sounds of people speaking might be comforting.

Treats, toys, and food distractions

Consider a new and interesting toy or bone to introduce right before the fireworks start. Kong-style toys stuffed with frozen, canned food, snuffle mats with hidden treats, and digestible chews are all excellent options.

Touch, massage, gentle words of reassurance

If your pet is excessively seeking attention during stressful times, a massage or belly rub might be the treatment they need. Use gentle and slow motions and tell them how brave they are!

Try compression wraps and other calming aids

Compression wraps can help by giving your pet a gentle hug, which can release those good feeling endorphins to help provide them with a sense of calm and well-being. Other calming aids like diffusers, collars, and room sprays release a calming scent and pheromones that could help comfort panicking pets. Calming aids can also come in the form of ingestible products like chews or biscuits, and even prescribed aids if the anxiety is too much for them to handle. If you have questions about recommended over-the-counter products or prescription options, please do not hesitate to give us a call!

It is important to try out different methods to help narrow down what works best for your unique animal. If you need assistance in making the best decisions for your pet, or if you believe that your pet requires prescription medication for their anxieties, give us a call and schedule an appointment with one of our knowledgeable and caring veterinarians today!