Protect Your Pet Without Missing the Fun!
How to keep firework anxiety at bay this 4th of July season
People love fireworks! They’re the perfect way to celebrate the 4th of July and New Year’s, and they always, “Wow!” a crowd. Dogs, on the other hand, usually don’t mix well with fireworks.
It makes sense that dogs would find fireworks stress-inducing. They are evolutionarily inclined toward being fearful of loud, unpredictable sounds. In a wild setting, a dog would use this instinct to sense potential dangers. In a domestic setting, it still triggers a dog’s fight or flight response, but instead of being able to defend themselves from a perceived danger, dogs feel trapped and terrified.
Dogs' reactions to fireworks lead to visible signs of extreme stress and, in some cases, lead to dogs running away. To keep dogs safe and calm this year, Pampered Pet Inn has put together a list of tips for pet owners to minimize stress, anxiety, and the possibility of losing a pet.
- Update your pet’s microchip, tags, etc. before the holiday season in the case of your dog escaping and getting lost.
- Make sure your pet gets lots of exercise before sundown. This will release any extra energy that could potentially increase their stress response.
- Make sure your pet stays indoors, away from the display. It’s best practice to leave pets at home in an environment that is familiar and comfortable to them. Be sure to check for holes in fences or enclosed outdoor spaces to prevent runaways on potty-breaks.
- Create a safe space for them. Most dogs already have a designated safe space: their crate. Add fluffy blankets, toys, or other treats. Muffle the noise of the fireworks in the home with curtains, and use blankets on the top and sides of the crate as well. Playing white noise or calming music helps to drown out the booms as well. If the dog doesn’t have a crate space, any enclosed space (like a bathroom) that muffles the noise will work. This gives your pet a home base and somewhere to go when they feel trapped, to “escape.”
- Distract your dog as much as possible. We recommend puzzle toys that release treats, kongs with frozen peanut butter inside, reassuring contact, one-on-one play, or any activity that keeps your dog occupied.
- Invest in a Thundershirt or other anti-anxiety wrap. Anti-anxiety wraps have been shown to greatly reduce dogs’ physical stress response and to have a calming effect on dogs during stressful situations.
- Desensitize your dog to firework sounds. The best results for this tip are usually found during your dog’s “socialization window” that takes place in the first 2-12 weeks of their life. Over time, play video recordings of fireworks at a gradually increasing volume and length. Dogs will slowly become accustomed to the sounds, and be much less likely to experience any extreme stress when the real thing happens.
- In truly extreme circumstances, you should contact your veterinarian for advice on CBD supplements or other medicinal options for your pet. Sometimes a dog’s anxiety is so extreme that it starts to affect them negatively in the long-term. These cases may require special management that only a veterinarian can provide.
At Pampered Pet Inn, pet safety is our number one priority, and we hope that these tips will help keep our fuzzy friends safe this 4th of July!