Our solution to the July Fourth maelstrom that turns our neighborhood into a set for a war movie has been to go camping in an area that doesn't allow fireworks. If that's not an option for you, my friend Christine Mallar, who co-owns Green Dog Pet Supply with her husband, Mike, just sent out a few suggestions for pet owners on how to help your pets through the fireworks season. Read her full post here.
Just a reminder: now's the time to start thinking about how you'll manage the fireworks. Here are a few tips and products that might help:
- If you have a new dog, please don't take them with you to a fireworks display. The crowds and the very big noise and smells of the explosives can be very overwhelming to a dog, and could create a fear of fireworks where they might not have had one before.
- As people generally start setting off a few fireworks in the days leading up to July 4th, you can use these intermittent pops and bangs as opportunities. Keep some high value treats nearby and when you hear a pop, act like that's a really great opportunity for your dog for fun and treats! If nothing else, at least don't act like you're worried that they'll be frightened by the noises, or they might pick up on that and think they should be frightened, too. It's best to either ignore the noise or act like you think it's fun and treat-worthy.
- Thundershirts can be a very useful tool. These snug wraps can really help to calm and reassure dogs in stressful situations. It's a good idea to pick one up early and put it on at times when nothing bad is happening, so they don't learn to think something scary is about to start. (Dogs are pretty good at noticing patterns.) These don't work for every dog, but they can be amazingly helpful for some dogs. There are also a variety of calming treats that can be very helpful. Note: do not use Acepromazine on July 4th as it can increase noise sensitivity.
- On July 4th day, make sure to get all of your pets lots of exercise. Getting them tired will help them not to be so amped up over noises. Burn off that nervous energy! Keep them inside when there are fireworks going off—don't leave them outside, since they can panic and run off or be injured by people playing with fireworks. Offer dogs something new and exciting to chew on that night, since chewing often helps dogs deal with stress. Turning on some white noise or music, or even the clothes dryer or a noisy dishwasher can be helpful to drown out the fireworks noise.
- Are your ID tags current? Make sure that every pet, perhaps even your indoor cats, are wearing their tags. Fearful animals can often bolt for the door, and many pets are lost every year. There's still plenty of time to order a fresh ID tag.