Fourth of July celebrations can be overwhelming for some pets. Fireworks are closer to the ground and have burning smells that thunder and lightning don't have, making it a tougher time for your four-legged buddy. In addition to stress and fear that your pet might experience, some pets gets spooked and run away during the loud booms and crackles of a fireworks show. More dogs are found wandering and lost on this holiday than any other day of the year, according to Positively.
Aside from sedation (which should only be a last resort and done with the advice of a veterinarian), there are a few things you can do to help your furry best friend get through Independence Day.
1. Create a safe place.
If your dog already has a kennel, Cesar Millan suggests putting your dog in the crate to give him a safe place to hide. Be sure to take him out for bathroom breaks every few hours.
If you have a cat, she might make a beeline for the basement door. If it's a safe place for her to be (no hazardous liquids or places she might get stuck), let her ride out the show down there.
2. Don't be sad your dog is missing the spectacular.
Being worried that your dog is missing the grand finale is assigning human guilt to a doggy situation. You might enjoy fireworks, but your dog might not. And that's OK.
3. Stay with your pet.
Be a support system to your loyal pal during this scary time. Stay calm - if you get excited over the fireworks, your energy and body language is going to make your pet excited. You might not get to see the show, but remember that time you broke up with your boyfriend and your pup stayed by your side while you cried in bed? Or all those days that you came home from work and she greeted you at the door with love and kisses? A small sacrifice is worth all that unconditional love.
4. Sound therapy could help ease noise phobia.
Try playing a calming CD like "Through a Dog's Ear" or "Through a Cat's Ear" a few minutes before the fireworks starts. Studies show that playing the music before, during and after the stressor can help your dog or cat associate the music with calmness and keep agitation levels low.
There are also canine noise phobia CDs that you can play at other times to gradually desensitize your pet to harsh, upsetting sounds. Sounds like fireworks, thunderstorms and city noises can be played at your pet's pace.
5. Thundershirt to the rescue!
You know how antsy, crying newborns become calm and peaceful when swaddled? Thundershirts basically do the same thing for your dog. "One thing is for certain, for a very large percentage of dogs, Thundershirt's gentle, constant pressure has a terrific calming effect," according to Positively. "This has obvious benefits for most types of anxiety."
Pets Happy Zone has seen first-hand the benefits of thundershirts in combination with denning (giving pets a safe place) and being a calm supportive pet parent.
6. Cats communicate by scent, so pheromone therapy is an option.
One brand of pheromone spray the Pets Happy Zone has tried is Feliway. Our Feliway was purchased from the vet to help calm kitties that moved into a new home or had a stressful visit at the vet. "Feliway is a synthetic copy of the feline facial pheromone, used by cats to mark their territory as safe and secure," according to Chewy.com. "By mimicking the cat's natural facial pheromones, Feliway creates a state of familiarity and security in the cat's local environment."
PetSmart sells dog pheromones, calming collars and even plug-in calming diffusers.
7. Herbal before chemical - give nature a chance first.
Before running to your vet to ask for sedation for your pet, try some herbal calming methods. You can buy treats with calming ingredients either at your vet's office or a pet store, like PetCo. If your pet isn't good with pills, no worries! There are drops and chews that taste like yummy treats, but that contain ingredients like ginger, L-Tryptophan, chamomile and sometimes melatonin. (Always double check with your vet before adding anything to your pet's diet.)
When it comes down to it, we all get scared sometimes, but having someone who loves us and makes us feel safe is the most important thing... and what better way to celebrate freedom than with freedom from fear?