Firework season is here, and your pets are probably not excited. The booming noises and unpredictable flashes of light might be enthralling for some humans, but can be frightening and mentally taxing for many pets. If your pet suffers from firework-induced anxiety, they’re not alone. Use these eight tips to help your pet get through firework season with comfort, ease, and safety.
- Do your research
Find out when and where firework displays will take place in your area. Ask your neighbors if they have plans to set off fireworks. If possible, avoid those areas or leave your pet at home. If attending firework displays with your pet, plan ahead and be mindful of large crowds.
- Take your dog for a long, early walk
Exercise releases endorphins that help calm anxiety and stabilize the nervous system, as well as it releases mood-lifting hormones. Outdoor exercise prior to the noise starting is essential because you might not know when it will be safe to venture out again. It’s a good idea to get your dog to a relaxed, happy, empty-bladder state before fireworks begin.
- Keep your pets indoors
If you’re going to a fireworks display, leave your pet at home. Make sure they have easy access to a place in your home where they’ll feel safe and comforted. If you must take your pet with you, keep them leashed and under your direct control at all times.
- Play calming sounds
Mitigate the alarming noises of fireworks with more soothing sounds like soft music or the television. If you’re with your pet during fireworks, talking to them in a comforting voice and moving them to a room with no windows can also be helpful.
- Watch for signs of stress
In dogs, barking, whimpering, and pacing are clear signs of stress. Other, less obvious signs include excessive yawning or licking, panting, and shedding. Cats signify stress by trembling, trying to escape, hissing, and failing to use the litter box. If your pet is showing any of these stress indicators, do your best to comfort them; ensure they have a place to hide but not means to escape; and remember these are not punishable behaviors – they are anxiety-triggered behaviors.
- Use natural anxiety-reducers
Anxiety vests, such as a ThunderShirt, can help reduce stress in some pets. If you do not have an anxiety vest, try a tight-fitting shirt. You can also try pheromone-releasing products, which send comforting sensory messages to animals in stressful situations. Consider an Adaptil collar for dogs or a calming collar for cats. Or, try pheromone-releasing sprays. For dogs, spray Apadtil on a bandana and wrap it around them. For cats, spray Feliway on their bed or favorite safe hiding space.
- Talk to your vet
In some cases, anti-anxiety medications are what’s best for your pet. Remember to give a practice dose of the new medication before the day of fireworks to test your pet’s response. Your veterinarian may also be able to offer tailored suggestions for managing your pet’s particular anxieties and fears.
- Safeguard your pet
Sometimes, anxiety and fear can lead to pets taking drastic measures to escape the noise, such as breaking through door or window screens. Make sure your pet is wearing a collar and ID tags, and that their microchip is properly registered with your current contact information. If your pet does become lost or if you find a lost pet, submit our online Lost and Found form and contact your local police department.