I believe animals are one of God's greatest gifts to us. They offer not just companionship but also unconditional love.
Fireworks Frighten Pets
Every year around the Fourth of July, animal shelters across the United States take in many more dogs and cats than usual. Many of them are pets that have escaped from their owners because of the loud sounds of fireworks. They become frightened and run away to get as far as they can from the terrifying noises they hear.
Since you love your furry companions, you will want to keep them safe around the Fourth of July. Here are seven easy ways you can help keep them comfortable and prevent them from running away when those firecrackers go off.
7 Ways to Keep Your Dog or Cat Calm During Fireworks
- Keep them in a familiar indoor environment.
- Play the sounds they're used to.
- Have their bed and toys nearby.
- Try compression clothing.
- Consider calming aides.
- ID and microchip your pet.
- Stay calm.
1. Keep Your Pet Indoors
The best thing you can do to keep your pet safe around the Fourth of July is to keep him indoors. By being inside, he won't be directly exposed to the frightening sounds or sights of fireworks. He also won't have access to the yummy foods you'll be eating, which could make him very sick. In addition, he won't be tempted to run away.
Keep Him in His Favorite Room
It is best to keep your pet in a place he's familiar with. Does your furry friend have a favorite room he likes to hang out in? If you have a velcro pup like mine, perhaps this is the room you spend most of your time in. It might be your living room, where you spend your evenings reading or engaging in another hobby. Perhaps it's a home office where you work remotely or your kitchen where you spend hours cooking. It's important to keep your pet in a place he's comfortable in. This will help him feel more secure when the fireworks go off. Be sure to close the windows and curtains to help block out the sights and sounds of the firecrackers outside.
Don't put your furbaby in a room he's not used to being in. This will only make him feel more frightened.
Keep Him in Good Company
If you plan to be out of your house during the celebrations, who will stay with your dog? Cats are more independent so are less likely to mind being left alone, but your canine will need some companionship. Do you have a family member who would be glad to stay home with him or a reliable pet sitter who's willing to come over? Your pup will be happiest if he has someone with him during the commotion he's sure to hear outside.
Consider a Room Without Windows
It's best to keep your pet in a room without windows to minimize the volume of the sounds of firecrackers outside. He'll likely still hear them, but they won't seem as loud without windows in the room.
2. Play Music or Turn On the Radio
Familiar sounds heard in a familiar setting can help foster a sense of calm and normalcy. Consider the following options.
Play Familiar Sounds
What do you normally listen to when you're home? Do you play jazz or enjoy radio talk shows? Perhaps you have the TV on a lot of the time. If you're away for the Fourth of July, turn on whatever your pet is used to hearing at home. Like being in a familiar room, listening to familiar sounds will help him feel at ease.
Turning on the radio or TV ensures that the music or dialogue will play continuously. Keep it at the volume you normally use or just slightly higher.
Use a Sound Machine
My dog is used to my sound machine being on through the night. Sometimes I also turn it on during the day when I need to concentrate on my writing. My sound machine plays nature sounds such as rain, waterfalls, and chirping crickets. My favorite is the sound of rain. It keeps me relaxed, and it seems to have the same effect on my pup. This is the sound I select when I want him to relax.
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3. Keep His Bed and Toys With Him
Pets tend to be fairly attached to their sleeping places, and many use their favorite toys to release energy or calm down. Be sure to keep these things close and available on the Fourth.
Keep His Favorite Bed Close
Does your animal have a specific place he sleeps in? Place him in the room where he likes to sleep. If he has a bed, consider moving it to a room you think might be quieter. My dog's bed is—ahem—my bed. I didn't plan it that way, but it sort of developed (I accept all blame). My furbaby loves to lay beside me while I read or sleep in bed. He also spends a lot of time stretched out under my bed.
Provide an Enclosed Place
Before I adopted my pup, I had a cat for almost twenty years. He loved getting into boxes and closets (as well as laying on top of paper, but I digress). Now that I have a dog, I keep an open crate in my home for him to go in and out of as he wishes. I have a blanket over the crate and several layers of towels inside it so he feels safe and comfortable. My dog will often go into the crate when I give him a special bone to chew on. It's like his personal cave. Does your dog have a personal space he gravites to? Consider keeping him in a room where he has access to it.
Provide Toys and Blankets
My canine's favorite toy is "Squeaky." It's a blue football-shaped ball that squeaks when squeezed. Don't laugh—all his toys have names. And yes, he knows them all by name! If I say, "Get Polkie," he gets the rubber bone with polka dots on it. Then there's "Holey", "Big Chicken", and the list goes on. When I want to help my furbaby feel comfortable, I keep his familiar toys near him. I also keep a familar towel nearby, which I take from inside his crate. (I gave up buying blankets for him because he tears them up.) Keeping your pet's familiar toys and other items close to him will help him feel settled.
4. Try Compression Clothing
Some dog owners swear by anxiety vests and jackets such as ThunderShirts and other calming wraps. I've never tried one on my dog, but I have heard that the gentle pressure they apply on your pet's body helps some animals feel safe and calm. A snug t-shirt or sweater may have a similar effect. Consider the temperature in your home when you put coverings on your pet so you don't overheat him.
5. Consider Calming Aids
I'm not a fan of medicating my pets unless absolutely necessary. I prefer to find natural and more holistic ways of addressing behavior and physical problems.
I recently discovered calming chews and tablets to help reduce stress and anxiety in dogs. I use NaturVet's Quiet Moments Calming Aids for my pup to help him relax at night. They contain chamomile and passionflower, which are natural calming ingredients. They also contain melatonin, which helps regulate the sleep cycle.
Giving your dog a calming aid may help destress him. Be sure to give it to him at least 30 minutes before you anticipate the fireworks going off.
6. ID and Microchip Your Pet
Many people have family or friends coming and going from their home on the Fourth of July. This means it will be easy for your dog or cat to escape. Your guests may do their best to be careful, but our furry friends have a way of sneaking out the door.
Having an ID tag on your pet with your updated contact information is critical. If your pet escapes and is found, you can be contacted and reunited with him. If he doesn't have any ID on him, he's likely to end up in a shelter or in a stranger's home, and you may never see him again.
Microchipping your furbaby is another way to ensure you don't lose him forever. Remember that unless your pet is scanned for a microchip in a veterinary clinic, you can't be located. An ID tag, on the other hand, is visible to whoever finds your pet so you can be reached more quickly. To be safe, it's best to have both an ID tag and a microchip on your furry companion.
7. Stay Calm
If you are home with your pup during the fireworks, stay calm. Dogs feed off their owners’ energy. If you are feeling anxious about your dog feeling frightened, your furry friend will pick up on your anxiety and will display nervous behavior.
Once the firecrackers start going off, just relax. Keep doing what you were doing, such as watching that romantic comedy or reading that mystery novel. Managing your emotions is important if you want to keep your dog at ease. Watch your body language and tone of voice, as your furbaby uses these as clues to how you’re feeling.
Stay Safe and Have Fun
The Fourth of July is a time of celebration for many Americans. While some of us may prefer that fireworks be banned, chances are they'll be around for years to come.Take good care of your pet during this holiday so that he is safe and comfortable. You don't have to sacrifice your plans for him—just make sure to provide him with what he needs to help him feel protected, relaxed, and loved.
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© 2020 Madeleine Clays