Does your dog whine and cry during thunderstorms? Does your cat dart around the house meowing if a motorcycle roars past your house? If your pet is anxious when it comes to loud noises, you might be looking ahead to the 4th of July (and the days leading up to it) with dread. If people in your neighborhood set off fireworks, you could be in for a lot of pacing, whining, meowing, drooling, or even some uncharacteristic aggression from your nervous pet. Fireworks and your pet simply don’t mix. Read on to find out how you can best prepare yourself and your pet for loud celebrations that might be part of the next week or two.
Minimize Stress during the Day
Adding the stress of fireworks on top of the stress of hosting a 4th of July celebration or taking your pet along to someone else’s can make the situation much worse. As your pet builds up cortisol from the stress of the daytime routine disruption, they are that much closer to being on edge once the loud noises start. Try to keep your routine the first few days of July as close to normal as possible. If your pet is very anxious, it’s a good idea to avoid hosting a large gathering or taking them to a strange, stressful place.
Take Dogs Out to Potty before Dark
The fireworks likely won’t get ramped up until after dark. Most dogs have a bedtime potty break, but if it’s light until 9:00 or 10:00 in your area this time of year, move it ahead a bit so they’re all set for bed by the time the sun has disappeared.Keeping them in the house can reduce not only stress but also the risk of running away. Anxious dogs try to run away from threats, and a lot of dogs go missing on the 4th of July. Even if your dog has never tried to run away before, keep him leashed and hold the leash tightly if fireworks might begin going off.
Provide White Noise
Keeping the television or radio on can ease your pet and give him something else to listen to other than what is going on outside. Turn on the music or keep your pet in the room with you while you catch up on your favorite shows. If you are going out to enjoy the festivities but are worried about fireworks and your pet, leave one or more televisions on so there is a low level of noise in the house.
Let Your Cat Hide in a Safe Place
While some cats will walk around seeking you out when they are stressed, many will hide somewhere safe. If your cat likes to go into closets, leave a closet door ajar so he will have somewhere to retreat. You can also set up a cardboard box with a blanket or towel in it in a quiet, out-of-the-way location. Your cat will naturally gravitate toward it and might feel safer in a small area.
Playing with your pet can keep his mind off of the loud, scary sounds. You can break out a new bone or toy for your dog or rub one of your cat’s favorite toys or blankets with catnip. Toys that dispense treats are particularly helpful when it comes to distracting pets. They encourage mental work that results in yummy food.
Consider a Thundershirt or Pheromone Spray
There are several nonmedical solutions for anxiety that you might try if you’re worried about fireworks and your pet. A Thundershirt
is a weighted vest that helps anxious dogs and cats settle down by providing gentle pressure that feels like a hug. There are also anti-anxiety sprays made from calming hormones called pheromones. You can also buy them in plug-in form; simply plug them in as you would an air freshener and see if your pet settles down. It’s best to try these remedies before a stressful event to see if they work for your pet and also to be sure that they don’t make them more anxious.
Some supplements are safe for animals and can help them relax. It’s very important to speak to your veterinarian before giving your dog or cat any type of supplements, particularly if they are made for humans and not animals. Even when giving supplements that are made for animals, it’s a good idea to have your pet checked for any potential health issues first and also to be sure that they are not contraindicated with any type of medication your pet is already taking.
Talk to Your Vet About Medication
Some pets with severe anxiety are helped by medication. Some medications are given daily for chronic anxiety while others can be used on an as-needed basis. Talk to your veterinarian to see which type of medication, if any, might be right for your pet. Your pet’s anxiety is hard on him and it can also be hard on you. Finding solutions that work for your specific pet will go a long way toward helping him have a more fulfilling and less stressful life. It will also help you enjoy your cat or dog more. It takes some time and effort (and, in some cases, expense) to find what works to alleviate your pet’s anxiety on the 4th of July, during thunderstorms, and during other loud events. However, it will be worth it when you see how happy and relaxed it makes your best furry friend.