Fireworks from July 4th celebration may be festive to you, but can frighten pets. More cats and dogs become lost on this day than any other when pets panic, go through windows, break tethers and leap fences. Even safely contained pets shiver, moan, and feel worse with each noisy boom.
It can take weeks or even months for desensitization and counter-conditioning techniques to teach fearful pets that noises won’t hurt them. With Independence Day right around the corner, these tips can offer more immediate help.
1. Scared animals calm themselves down by squeezing into tight spots and hiding their eyes. Offer your pets safe hiding place and let them be.
2. Avoid sympathetic baby-talk that rewards the fear. When you get upset or coddle your cat and dog during fireworks, you tell them they have good reason to be scared. Instead, be matter of fact. When it “booms” you can acknowledge the noise, “That was loud. But it doesn’t bother me, see? It shouldn’t bother you.”
3. Anti-anxiety training tools can help. Anxiety Wrap and Thundershirt are types of dog “vests” the pet wears that apply pressure to his body, and seem to calm fear in pets.
4. Cover up the sound with white noise. Use a white noise machine or a radio tuned to static works well.
5. Play soothing music.
6. Pheromone products also relieve fear and anxiety in pets. DAP (dog appeasing pheromone) works well for noise-phobic dogs. The product for cats, Feliway, relieves the cat’s anxiety about its territory. Both DAP and Feliway come as sprays or plug-in diffusers and the dog product also comes as a collar. The spray can be used every one to two hours on bedding or a bandana the pet wears.
7. Just as human babies may be soothed by a car ride, a road trip may soothe pets that enjoy the car and take their mind off the noise. Just be sure your cat or dog is safely secured in a carrier or restraint in the back seat during the ride.
8. The brain can’t think when in a state of panic. But the opposite holds true as well. Just before the fireworks start, drill your dog or your cat on favorite commands and tricks with lots of special yummy rewards or games.
9. Whatever you do, be sure that your pets stay safe. Bring outdoor pets inside the garage or the house during the holiday. Provide a crate or confinement in a pet-proofed room.
10. Just in case, be sure all your pets are microchipped or have other permanent and reliable identification for recovery if they do manage to escape when the rocket’s red glare fills the sky.