With July 4th coming up, what can I do to help my pets stay calm during the fireworks?
Feeling Festive in Forest West
Dear Feeling Festive,
As we approach that raucous, hot holiday known as the Fourth of July, here’s some “kibble for thought” regarding fireworks and your pets. While humans might “oooh and ahhh” over the bright flashes of light across the sky and the thunderous booms and pops, your pets can feel as though it’s the end of the world. Some well-meaning pet owners even insist on taking their pets along to fireworks displays, then are horrified when their dog freaks out and sometimes even runs away. This July 4th, try these tips to ensure that your pet stays safe and calm while you enjoy the holiday.
Dogs can hear fireworks that you can’t
Even if you don’t live near any public fireworks displays, please plan to prepare your pet for the possibility that he or she will be able to hear faraway and become distressed. Fireworks. (Remember, their hearing is far superior to that of humans!) That day, please make sure your pets are kept indoors and have a comfortable, cool, calm and cozy place to bed down for the evening with plenty of food and water. Also, please do not take your dog to see a fireworks show directly. Talk about anxiety! Crowds of people, loud noises, the heat–it’s enough to make even the most calm and well-mannered pooch head for the hills!
Running away from noise is a survival mechanism
As famous dog trainer, Cesar Milan explains, “Running away from the noise is a survival mechanism. Remember, to your dog, the experience of fireworks is different than other loud natural noises, like thunder. Fireworks are closer to the ground, more vibrant, and are accompanied by sudden booms, flashes and burning smells. Dogs experience the world through their senses – nose, eyes, ears — and the typical 4th of July celebration can be overwhelming.”
Some dog breeds may have a genetic predisposition towards noise anxiety, while some studies suggest that storm or noise anxiety could be a result of aging or hearing loss. If you have a dog who is prone to anxiety in thunderstorms, a Thundershirt, which is a jacket that your dog wears in an anxiety-prone situation, might help for fireworks distress as well. The Thundershirt applies gentle, constant pressure–similar to a hug–that has a dramatically calming effect for over 80 percent of dogs. If you don’t have a Thundershirt, a snug-fitting t-shirt can also have the same effect for your pup.
Don’t forget Fluffy on July 4th
The anxiety caused by fireworks isn’t just felt by dogs–cats get anxious, too. If you have outside cats, please ensure that you either bring them inside for the evening or provide an otherwise safe shelter for them. For indoor cats, please don’t take it personally if they prefer to hide under the bed or in the closet during the evening’s festivities. With a little forethought and preparation, you can ensure that all of your pets have an uneventful holiday weekend.
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