The Fourth of July is super-fun for all the humans in the United States. But the animals? Not so much.
While we’re off having the time of our lives, activities like fireworks and big parties can cause debilitating anxiety in pets and other wildlife. The loud noises can cause pets to panic, feel anxious, bark uncontrollably, chew through leashes, dig under fences to escape, claw destructively, suffer seizures and escape into busy traffic areas while trying to flee from the loud, unfamiliar sounds. Sounds like a real kick in the pants, right?
In fact, Independence Day and the following day are the busiest for animal shelters and animal control groups nationwide recovering lost pets that have run away — which is exactly why you shouldn’t brush off your pet’s fear of the holiday.
When it comes to treating pet anxiety, most anxious dogs go untreated because owners feel it is unnecessary or they believe anxiety simply doesn’t exist. Pet anxiety does exist and can result in property damage, high medical bills and lasting trauma.
Fortunately for pet owners, there are several well-known, proven calming solutions to protect your pets and help their anxiety during the Independence Day celebrations.
1. Get your pet a ThunderShirt. This works similar to swaddling an infant and has a dramatic calming effect on pets.
2. Be sure a pet has up-to-date and visible identification and microchipping in case he runs away if scared by noisy fireworks.
3. Don’t bring pets to fireworks events. Pets are better off being left home if you are going to partake in firework festivities.
4. Be sure to back up any photos or medical records to a cloud service so it can be easily accessed if traveling.
5. Crate your dog if they’re used to it. If a dog is regularly crated, he may find the crate a place of comfort during fireworks.
6. Try using a pheromone spray and make sure his favorite toy is available for further calming and distraction.
7. Keep pets inside as much as possible during fireworks displays. The insulation of a home will help drown out the noise and make the dog feel more secure.
8. Remember: Don’t scold a scared pet. This will scare and confuse a dog and reinforce fearful behaviors.
Originally published June 2016. Updated June 2017.