Let’s Make The 4th of July Great Again For Your Pets!

The 4th of July is incendiary enough without an explosion from your own panic-stricken pet. Pets are more sensitive to sights, sounds and smells than we are and the sudden loud noises and bright flashes that we find so much fun can trigger a fearful reaction in many pets, leading to destructive behavior, excessive barking, or other anxious behaviors such as cowering, drooling, or shaking. Here are some tips to protect your pets from stress and prevent some unwanted consequences of this holiday:

 

  1. Leave them at home. Don’t be tempted to have them with you to “join the fun”. It really won’t be fun for them, and may be dangerous - a spooked dog can slip a collar or jump a fence and bolt. There’s a reason why the day after the 4th of July is the busiest day of the year for shelters. 

  2. Provide a safe, soundproofed sanctuary within your house – preferably in the most den-like, shut-in room in the center of the house. Draw the curtains, close the windows and crank up the AC, along with white noise and/or music (dogs apparently like Reggae: cats, being more sophisticated, seem to prefer classical). YouTube, Spotify and Pandora stations even have stations carrying calming music for pets. 

  3. Some pets seek out small spaces when afraid – provide a closet or crate in the “sanctuary” to satisfy that need. If, however, don’t use a crate or cage if your pat has not already had a chance to get used to it. Toys, especially something to chew or lick, are important for distraction since these activities can release soothing endorphins. Make plenty of water available since anxiety often causes panting, and panting causes thirst.

  4. Provide lots of exercise early in the day and allow for many potty breaks to avoid indoor accidents or the need to go out during the height of the noise. If it is necessary to go out, use a leash, make sure there is a collar with a tag, and, if your pet is microchipped, make sure the information is up-to-date.

  5. Consider getting a Thundershirt – it’s not just for thunder anymore! This stretchy, tightly fitting coat can soothe anxious dogs and even cats. Other calming pet accessories include NurtureCalm collars and plug-in diffusers (Feliway for cats, DAP for dogs), all of which emit soothing pheromones. 6. Explore the options anti-anxiety supplements and medications with your veterinarian. Examples of anti-anxiety supplements include NutriCalm and Composure, while medications often used for anxiety-afflicted pets include Trazodone, Xanax and the only FDA-approved drug for noise aversion in dogs, Sileo. These supplements and medications work best if given before the anxiety starts, usually 1-2 hours in advance.

 

So keep your pets calm – and carry on…with your own 4th of July fun, knowing you have done your part to make it as stress-free as possible for your pet!