The 4th of July is quickly approaching and that means fireworks, festivities, gatherings, and fun! But for some pets, those celebrations are anything but fun. Loud noises and big booms can easily scare your pet into hiding, or worse - getting lost outside! There are lots of things you can do to help reduce stress for your pets. The month of June is the time to begin preparing your pets, your house, and yourself for July festivities.
Here are some tips to help you and your pets feel prepared so that everyone can have an enjoyable holiday!
Fireworks: One of the biggest causes of lost dogs each summer. We can’t control when fireworks might be let off, but we can control the environment in which our pets reside for the duration of the fireworks. If your pet has never experienced fireworks before, proceed with caution. Please don’t take them to the local park with your family & friends to go see the fireworks for the first time without knowing how they will react. Even dogs who do handle the loud booms well, aren’t necessarily enjoying it. It’s likely they are on high alert and you never know what may push them to react. If a pet must be near fireworks, ensure that they are leashed (NOT retractable) at all times, and have tight fitting collars or harnesses that they cannot escape.
Preparing your pet:
● Identification - make sure your pet is microchipped and wearing a collar or harness that has their/your information marked clearly in case they do get lost. This is a good practice
even if the dog is staying inside and not around any festivities, especially during this holiday.
● Calming treats, oils, and clothes - there are a variety of calming treats/supplements, essential oils, and calming vests out there on the market! Start shopping for these now, and see how your pet responds to them BEFORE you need to utilize them. For calming treats, let your dog try them to make sure they will eat them, and see if you are able to increase the dosage during high-stress times.
● Medication - if you receive medication from your vet for your pet’s anxiety, be sure to stock up on any refills BEFORE July. Vet office’s get very busy around the holidays and they need time to stock & refill prescriptions, so give them plenty of heads up if you need a refill!
Preparing your house:
● Secure fences - Walk the perimeter of your yard and make sure there are no holes underneath the fence, or any loose panels that break away easily. Do this in the month of June and also again right at the beginning of July.
● Secure doorways and windows - go around your entry ways of the house to ensure all doors close properly and windows/screens are intact.
● Make a sign - if you are having guests over, create a sign to let everyone know that they need to be cautious of animals while going in and out of the house.
● Create a safe room/space - for extra nervous pets, create a safe space for them to be confined to during parties or loud fireworks. Fill this with comfort items for your pet to help them feel safe. For Cats: it is probably best to confine them to a room that they feel most safe in. For Dogs: If using a crate be sure to cover the crate with a blanket to help them feel extra secure in there!
● Music or white noise - set up a radio playing background music to help your pet not be so lonely. You can play videos with calming music, nature sounds, or white noise as well. You could even put a long movie on for them!
● Your smell - give your pet one of your blankets or t-shirts that has your smell on it to help keep them calm while you are away or during times of high stress.
● Be aware - be conscious of the fact that this can be a very difficult time for pets, and make sure everyone in the household is also aware.
● Show kindness - to your pets and yourself, as this can be very stressful for everyone.
● Have a plan - make sure to have a plan in place for your pets if you will be gone, or if you are having a party. Being prepared will cut down on the amount of surprises that might occur.
● Know what to do if your pet gets lost - have numbers for neighbors and shelters ready. Contact Pet FBI and their microchip company to help locate them if lost. Knowing what to do in times of high stress can help you think clearer and panic less.
● Try to be calm around your pet - if you are nervous about leaving them home alone during fireworks or festivities, they will pick up on that. Reassure them, and yourself, that everything will be alright.
A Note: Try a “practice run” on a random night, just as you would during fireworks or an event. This helps your pet associate all of these actions (sounds, environmental changes, meds, etc) with a normal day. If you only ever pull out the calming treats/meds, music, or their crate covered in a blanket during high-stress times, your pet will begin to associate those calming tricks with stress. In turn, this can make them more nervous or scared. The goal is to reduce stress and create a trusting environment. Make it a habit to randomly provide your pet with a “calming night” so that they feel safe and comfortable when the necessary time comes. Preparedness is the key! Although, even with all of the prep some pets will probably still be a shaking, shivering, nervous wreck. It’s alright, we all get scared sometimes! You may just need to stay home and watch a good movie while snuggling your furkid tight! Setting your pet up for success doesn’t have to take much, but be sure to start before July 3rd!!