Independence Day is around the corner and you want to celebrate this beloved holiday with friends and family. Many want to bring their dog along since it will be a long day away from home. But your pets may not agree this is one of the best days of the year. In fact, this is a time where it is best to leave Fido at home. The loud noises, bright lights, big crowds and burning smells can be overwhelming which can lead some pets to panic and rely on their survival instinct to run.
Here are 4 steps you can take BEFORE the fireworks start:
Desensitize your dog. If your dog gets used to the sound that fireworks make before the real deal, they will realize there is nothing to be afraid of. CDs are available for purchase from various pet supply companies that play several commonplace, loud noises you can use to get your dog used to the sounds and reducing panic while going about your normal daily routine. Giving your dog treats or engaging in play while the sounds are playing can help your dog associate the loud noise with good things. Start at a lower volume and as your dog gets used to it, slowly increase the volume over time.
Know the signs. Common signs of panic in dogs include panting, pacing, drooling and barking. Your dog may also try to hide or run from the booming noise. Monitor your pet for any changes in behavior or signs of stress, especially if you don’t know how your dog handles loud noises and bright flashes.
Make sure your pet’s ID and microchip are up to date. If your pet does not already have a tracking device, we recommend looking into having a microchip implanted immediately. It is a quick procedure and is far more reliable than your pet’s ID tag and collar which can get caught on something and break easily, leaving your pet unidentifiable. If your pet has a microchip, make sure the information linked to the chip is current and correct.
Tire your pet before the bulk of the festivities. Take your dog to the park, do a heavy training session, play a long game of fetch or just go on an extended walk before dark. Your dog just may sleep through the bulk of the noise instead of panicking.
Here are 6 things you can do to calm and comfort your dog DURING fireworks:
Keep pets indoors. Starting at dusk, it is best to limit your dog’s access to outside. It’s even better to keep them away from noisy, high traffic areas and doors that may open during the celebration, giving your pet the opportunity to escape. It is best not to take pets to a fireworks display because even the calmest pets can become overwhelmed and spooked by the thunderous noise in a big crowd.
Create a quiet space and remove visual stimulation. Before the fireworks begin, move your dog to the quietest safe area of your home. If they have a crate they are comfortable in, make sure they have access to it. You could also use a basement, a room in the center of the house, or an area with the most insulation in the walls. Some dogs even retreat to the bathtub! Try playing some gentle music or using a white noise machine to help drown out some of the scary sounds. Fill the quiet room with soft blankets, fun toys and a few treats. If possible, keep the windows and curtains closed and lower the lights. Covering the crate can also help calm dogs.
Provide an edible distraction. Your dog’s passion for food may conquer his fear of fireworks. Use a fillable or Kong-style toy to create a scrumptious challenge for your dog to snack on during the evening fireworks. Fill the toy with dog food, treats or fresh veggies and then add peanut butter, yogurt or applesauce to fill the gaps. Place the toy in the freezer a few hours before the fireworks, then give it to him when the noises begin. You can also consider giving him a chew like a Nylabone or bully stick.
Comfort and love your dog. When your dog experiences fireworks anxiety, he feels genuine fear and panic. Receiving love and comfort from trusted humans can help tremendously. Support your dog by speaking to him in a soothing voice and offering snuggles. Your dog may also benefit from playful interactions with you, such as fetching a ball or playing with a toy.
Look into anti-anxiety pet products. Because fireworks anxiety is so common in dogs, you can now find many products designed to help them stay calm. Try out dog ear muffs or a snug anti-anxiety shirt. You can also look for puzzle toys designed to keep their minds occupied and distract them from fear.
Try medications. If you know your dog panics when there are loud noises (construction, thunderstorms, fireworks) consider talking to your veterinarian about anti-anxiety medications that can help.
If your pet disappears contact your local animal shelters immediately to alert them. Inform your neighbors your pet is missing so they will be on the lookout.
If you have any techniques that work for your pet that we haven’t mentioned, please list them in the comments. We hope you and your pets have an enjoyable holiday!
Passionately Pets has been a trusted pet care provider in Northern Virginia since 2007. We proudly provide dog walking, pet sitting and overnight services for dogs, cats and other companion animals in Arlington, Alexandria, Falls Church & Annandale. Visit our website, www.passionatelypets.com, to request a consultation or for more information. For more pet filled content, follow us on Instagram and like us on Facebook @passionatelypets.