How to prevent your pets from panicking during the 4th of July fireworks

How to prevent your pets from panicking during the 4th of July fireworks
How to prevent your pets from panicking during the 4th of July fireworks

Patriotic black lab and friend wearing red, white and blue bandana celebrating 4th of July holiday on city street. (Getty)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — While fireworks are a lovely family tradition for some people, they are a source of anxiety for many furry friends. That’s why many pets go missing around the Fourth of July.

“Dogs can react unpredictably to loud fireworks, large crowds and other unfamiliar sights and sounds at parades, community events or even in the backyard during Fourth of July celebrations,” said Erin Askeland, the animal and health behavior specialist at Camp Bow Wow, North America’s largest dog daycare and boarding facility. “To prevent panicked, overexcited dogs from running away, pet owners should take precautions when planning holiday activities.”

To keep your cats and dogs happy and relaxed throughout the summer, you can prepare them in advance and then guide them through the chaos. Here are some recommendations from VCA Animal Hospitals, Camp Bow Wow and the ASPCA:

    • Create a place of refuge. Create a cozy retreat where your pet can escape the hustle and bustle but still feel safe and secure. Choose an area where your pet likes to hang out, but make sure it also blocks out the sounds and sights of fireworks. You can try different areas, such as a walk-in closet or a room with blackout curtains. Don’t forget to provide a comfortable bed and your pet’s favorite toy (and if you want to make it even more awesome, you can add playtime or treats).
      You should also guide your furry friend to his sanctuary. Through repetition, he will learn to find his comfort spot on his own.
    • Consider taking calming supplements and aids. There are numerous natural supplements and pheromone-based solutions designed to reduce animal anxiety.
    • Visit your veterinarian as soon as possible. If your pet has a history of panicking at thunder, construction noise or fireworks, you should consult your veterinarian. They can give you personalized advice and prescribe anti-anxiety medication if necessary.
    • Start early in the day. Get some exercise and give your four-legged friend calming supplements or anti-anxiety medication before the crowded and noisy festivities begin. This can help him relax and reduce his reactivity.
    • Add security measures. Make sure your pet always wears a collar and ID tag, and check that the microchip is registered with your current information. With dogs in particular, make sure they are leashed and supervised when you take them out to relieve themselves. If you go out on the Fourth of July, consider putting your pet in a kennel or taking extra steps to keep them safe. Also, have a recent photo of them on hand in case they get lost.
    • Mask the noises from outside. In your furry friend’s safe area, turn on soothing music, a fan, a white noise machine, or even a television, then close all windows and doors to block the blasts (and to prevent your pet from escaping if they get scared).
    • Make sure there is enough distraction. Distract your furry friend’s attention with a new toy, treat-filled puzzles, or a durable chew.
    • Keep Calm and carry on. When your pet is distressed, it’s natural to want to soothe them, but excessive comfort can reward their behavior or confirm their fears. Instead, give them some reassurance, such as a few gentle strokes, and then carry on with your usual routine.
    • Never let your pets near fireworks as they can easily be injured.

According to the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), one in five pets goes missing because they were frightened by loud noises. Because of this, thousands of pets are reported missing in the United States during the week of July 4th.

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