Thursday, June 30, 2016

9 Tips to Keep Your Pets Safe and Calm on 4th of July Weekend

Did you know more pets go missing over the July 4th weekend than at any other time of year?

Celebrating the 4th of July with its loud pyrotechnics and fireworks displays may be fun for humans, but it can scare and disorient your pet in a matter of seconds, causing them to flee from the safety of their homes and go missing.

Historically, July 5th is the busiest day at Animal Shelters in the U.S.A. 

Why? Animals become anxious when they hear loud noises and see bright flashing lights. Their instincts tell them to run as fast and far away as possible to escape the source of their discomfort and anxiety. Throughout the Independence Day weekend, your pets will hear noises you might not hear or even be aware of because of their sensitive ears and nervous systems.

Recognizing the physical signs of stress is the first step to alleviating your pet's distress.

Here are some physical signs of anxiety and stress in pets:

  • Panting
  • Ears Pinned Back
  • Tail Between Legs
  • Excessive Vocalizations like whining, barking, and crying
  • Licking lips
  • Yawning
  • Restless Pacing and Can't Settle Down
  • Refuses Food and Treats
  • Excessive Scratching, Paw Licking, and Over-Grooming
Once an animal becomes frantic, it's difficult for them to calm down. It's better for them, and you, to prevent your pet from becoming distressed in the first place. Once in the "red zone," your pet can no longer hear you. Instead, their panic drives them to find a safe place. That's why they hide under furniture or try to escape their backyards and homes in by whatever means possible. 

Kobe Bear 

Kobe Bear hated fireworks and loud noises.

My second Keeshond, Kobe Bear, now In Spirit, became extremely anxious during the 4th of July celebrations. It didn't help could be seen and heard from every room in my house for two nights in a row.

The first year I had Kobe Bear, I had no idea how upset he would get from fireworks given that my previous dog had no problems with loud noises. Kobe Bear, on the other hand, melted down with intense fear and became frantic.

Despite being able to communicate telepathically to Kobe he was safe, his fear overwhelmed him to point where he couldn't hear me. Over the years, I came to dread the 4th of July fireworks displays because it was awful watching my dog suffer.

One year, Kobe was so freaked out, he tried to jump out of a window when the fireworks display began aas he attempted to escape the scary noises and lights that he didn't understand. Despite closing the windows and blinds, keeping him in a back bedroom, feeding him delicious treats and playing music, Kobe could still feel the vibrations the pyrotechnics created.

Unfortunately, Kobe Bear's terror didn't end when the firework displays ended because people in my neighborhood continued to set off firecrackers throughout the night. He trembled and barked every time he heard a loud noise. Despite my best attempts to calm and communicate with him, Kobe suffered terribly. In hindsight, I should have considered medicating him to alleviate his suffering.

It's key to communicate with your pets
 to help them cope with fireworks.

I like this video from PETA because it shows, from a dog's perspective, how quickly a dog can spook and run from fireworks and firecrackers with potentially life-threatening consequences.

A large number of pets end up in the Vet ER during the Independence Day holiday

During the 4th of July holiday; large influxes of pets go to the Vet ER for ingesting inappropriate picnic and BBQ foods such as hot dogs and fatty meats. 

Even ingesting a corn cob can make your dog very sick. Fatty BBQ meat can cause pancreatitis. It's better to avoid these types of foods to prevent gastric upset and a possible trip to the ER.

If you are having a party, it's better for your animal family if they are kept away from the noise and potential danger of eating the wrong foods.

Pets also visit the ER because they burn their paws on hot pavement or become dehydrate and overheated from the mid-Summer heat.

9 Tips to keep your pets calm and safe:

Tip #1: Your pet's ID is their ticket home. If you do nothing else, put a collar with current ID tags securely on your pet at the start of the holiday weekend. ID Tags are the quickest and easiest way for your pet to be returned to you if they go missing. Make sure your information on the ID Tags is current and remember to include your cell number.

If you have a horse, you may want to place a safety or breakaway halter on them with your current contact information. This way, your horse is wearing her ticket home just in case she spooks and runs away.

Use ID tags in addition to microchipping your pet. It's important to microchip your pet especially if they end up in an Animal Shelter.

If your pet isn't microchipped already, talk to your veterinarian about getting your pet microchipped. It's a good time to double check that your microchip information is up-to-date.

Remember, your pet's ID Tags are their ticket home if they go missing.

Tip #2: Never use fireworks around your dog or other pets. The noise will spook them with an excellent chance they may run away and go missing. Fireworks can easily burn the fur on an animal so it's best to keep them away from this type of hazard.

Tip #3: Exercise reduces your pet's stressOn high-stress days, like the 4th of July, it's an excellent idea to give your animals their exercise early in the day, so that they can be tired when they begin to feel like their world is crashing in on them. A tired animal tends to cope and deal with the loud noises better than a pet who has too much energy. 

Also, take your dog out for a long walk and potty right before the start of the fireworks displays, which will help them sleep. Taking your pets out during the fireworks display or later, when random firecrackers are set off, will greatly increase the chances of your pet going missing. 

Tip #4: Leave your pets safely secured inside your home. Put your pets in a quiet "safe room" where they can't accidentally escape. Having a "safe room" will help reduce their stress.

Cats are amazing escape artists. Put cats, including outdoor cats, in their "safe room" with their litter box and fresh water.

You may think it's fun to bring your dog to fairs, holiday celebrations, and fireworks shows, but I promise you, it's no fun for your dog. In fact, it can be a scary experience and they will be happier if they stay home. Also, keep in mind that dogs can quickly burn their paws on hot pavement. It may not feel hot to you because you're wearing shoes.

Tip #5: Stay home with your animal friends. Be a calming influence for your pets especially if they feel like their world is crashing down around them. Many animals have told me they cope better when their person is with them. Otherwise, they say, it's overwhelming to deal with loud, thunderous noises that might swallow them up or even worse, hurt them, without their person to protect them.

Tip #6: Decrease visual stimulation. Bright, flashing lights can upset animals, sometimes to the point where they will jump out of a 2nd story window. Draw the curtains and close the windows and blinds. If need be, put your dog in his crate and place a towel over it. 

Tip #7: Sound therapy is a helpful tool for your dog or cat. Playing music from Through a Dog's Ear and Through a Cat's Ear can help to desensitize and relax your pet. I used to play Through A Dog's Ear music for Kobe Bear on the 4th of July and New Year's Eve to minimize his stress. Click here for FREE SAMPLES, so you can choose what music is best for your animal family.

Relax Your Dog YouTube Channel plays calming music for your pets as well. In general, simple classical music is the best music to play as it's soothing for both animal and human.

Tip #8: Distract and redirect your pet's focus using chew toys, playing games and offering them treats as a reward for ignoring the booming explosions.

Chewing reduces a dog's stress.  Give your dog something fun and safe to chew on like a frozen Kong filled with deliciousness like chicken or peanut butter to keep your dog occupied while reducing their stress.

Playing with your cat reduces their stress. Grab their favorite toy and have fun.

Tip #9: Talk to your vet. Your veterinarian should be one of your best resources to help your pet through the holiday weekend. If you've tried the above suggestions and your pet still suffers anxiety during fireworks, it may be time to discuss medication options to ease their anxiety. Never give your pet any form of medication without consulting your vet first as they have serious side-effects. I feel medication should be your last resort option if your dog is like Kobe Bear.

Wishing you and your animal family a safe and fun 4th of July Holiday!


Romilda Gareth said...


Jane Smith said...

External stimuli is often considered as one of the main reasons why our dogs run away from home. This happens more frequently during celebrations such as New Year or 4th of July. There are a lot of ways how to calm them down to significantly reduce agitation. You should check this article out if you’re facing the same problem: