Have you ever taken your dog with you to a fireworks event only to discover that you have to spend all your time trying to calm them down? This can be particularly confusing and frustrating when your pet normally seems to be very relaxed, easy-going and open to all sorts of activities. After all, you have the very best of intentions when you choose to bring them along and you have definitely provided them with the perfect opportunity to spend some extra time with you. So what’s the problem?
Fireworks and Pet Anxiety
It can often happen that those events and celebrations that we find to be the most fun and exciting can be incredibly upsetting and stressful for our pets. This is largely because we understand exactly what is happening and our pets don’t. A perfect example is the fact that we understand that fireworks exploding loudly in the air are a beautiful and wondrous thing, while our pets only understand that they are being forced to endure very loud, concussive noises and bright lights.
Managing pet anxiety during any holiday is extremely important, especially when your pet’s senses will be bombarded with strange and unusual things they don’t understand and can be frightened by. This is even true if you choose to leave your pets at home–they will still likely be exposed to the sounds of various types of fireworks exploding in the vicinity, and this can be difficult for them to deal with.
When it comes to pets and fireworks safety, there are some basic things you need to keep in mind:
- Pets can hear sounds in a different way than we can. Dogs, for example, hear much better than humans, and can, therefore, recognize the deep, percussive booms of fireworks from many miles away, even when we are completely unaware of them.
- Not all pets are bothered by fireworks, and some pets that seemed unbothered by them at one point may suddenly be more sensitive to them at a future point. Furthermore, some pets that seem not to be bothered by loud noises, in general, may yet be greatly bothered by the sound of fireworks.
- Pets that are stressed by fireworks may demonstrate this stress in a variety of ways, from unusual panting and uncontrolled trembling to vocalizing, bladder release, and sheer panic.
There are a variety of ways you can help your pet to cope with the stress of 4th of July celebrations, including:
- Keep your pets indoors during the celebrations. Even if you think your pet would be entirely safe in your secured backyard, you may be surprised to discover the lengths to which they will go in order to flee from perceived threats and danger. Keeping them indoors, with all doors and windows closed and secured, can help to suppress the noise and also block all possible avenues of escape.
- If you are planning to leave the house in order to join in the celebrations, consider crating your pet with fresh water and a few toys. If you cannot crate your pet, consider placing them in a dark, quiet area of the house where they will feel safe and secure in your absence.
- Use other, identifiable noises to help drown out the sound of fireworks. Sometimes turning on the television or the radio during fireworks celebrations can help to suppress the concussive booming sounds, and can, therefore, allow pets to relax a little more.
- Consider maintaining physical contact with your pet throughout the celebrations. While it is important not to overly coddle your pet while they are expressing excessive anxiety as this will only serve to further reward and reinforce it, you may find that they remain calmer when they are allowed to be in constant contact with you.
For more helpful suggestions about how to reduce your pet’s stress during 4th of July celebrations, please contact us.