Although fireworks can be entertaining for humans, they’re oftentimes a complete nightmare for animals.
Cats have extremely sensitive ears, so fireworks are extra traumatic for them. Plus many dogs will typically do anything to escape the noise, such as digging under fences, breaking through windows, or running through gates, according to Hilary Hanson’s reporting for the San Diego County Department of Animal Services.
Here are some ways to keep your pet safe and calm during firework displays.
Make sure your pets’ collars and microchips are up to date
In the event that your pet runs away out of fear of the fireworks, make sure they have collars with phone numbers and home addresses that are up to date.
If your pets are microchipped, check that the information associated with the microchip is current.
Don’t bring your dog to see fireworks
Dog trainer David Wright told The Denver Post that you should resist the urge to bring your dog with you to any Fourth of July festivities or firework displays.
If your pup is already scared of fireworks from inside the house, they’ll be even more scared seeing them up close.
Use a crate or keep your pet in a quiet room
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) suggests keeping your pet in a crate or closed room for two reasons. First, doing so will keep your pet from running away. Second, a quiet room will help muffle the noise from outdoors.
If you have an “outdoor cat” or a dog who usually stays in the backyard, make an exception on the Fourth of July (or during firework displays in your neighborhood) and bring them inside.
Take your dog for a long walk before the fireworks start
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Taking your dog for a walk before dusk ahead of firework displays can help your pup relax and feel more tired, animal trainer Nicole Ellis, who works for DogVacay, told Kate Bratskeir for HuffPost.
If your dog is sleepy, they will likely feel calmer during firework displays.
Play soothing sounds or white noise to calm your pets
The AVMA also suggests playing soothing tunes or calming white noise in an attempt to drown out the sound of the fireworks.
Keeping your windows and doors shut during the displays may also help muffle the sounds of the fireworks.
Have treats on-hand as a distraction
Treats, bones, chew-toys, catnip — whatever is it, have it on hand to try to distract your pet while the firework display is going on.
Be sure to keep your pet hydrated
Fear can make dogs pant and, though they might want to hide out and avoid the water bowl, it’s important to make sure your frightened pet is staying hydrated.
Some tricks for doing so include purchasing a water fountain, providing multiple water sources for your pet, and regularly refilling their dishes with fresh water.
Consider a sedative if your pet has a history of anxiety
If your pet has shown severe reactions to fireworks in the past, consult with your veterinarian about the use of a sedative.
This may also be an option if your pet is regularly experiencing anxiety — some signs of it include excessive shedding, yawning, or grooming.
You might even want to see a veterinary behaviorist, a type of veterinarian that has a special focus on animal behavior.
Consider getting your pet a Thundershirt or other anxiety-reducing wearable item
A Thundershirt is an anxiety-reducing vest for pets and it’s sort of similar to swaddling a baby. The Thundershirt says it provides “gentle, constant pressure to calm all types of anxiety, fear, and over-excitement issues.”
You can purchase these for dogs and cats, and there are other wearable anxiety-reducing clothing items out there for pets, too.
Consider staying home with your animal
If your presence typically calms your pet and brings them joy, consider staying indoors and keeping them by your side during firework displays.
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