It’s a day of celebration. There will be food! There will be friends and family! There will be fireworks!

Wait!  Fireworks?!?

But, it’s the weekend, and I forgot to call my vet, and Fluffy is terrified of fireworks! What should I do???

If fireworks strike fear into the hearts of your fur babies, you are not alone. Some statistics show that around 45% of dogs have a fear of fireworks. There are more pets that go missing after a fireworks display than you would think. Shelters are often overwhelmed with the number of animals that are brought in after 4th of July celebrations. Microchipping and making sure they have name tags with current contact information is one of the best ways to make sure your pet makes their way home if they get lost.

As of July 1, 2022, Ohio changed its laws on discharging fireworks, so chances are that there will be more fireworks going off this year.

If your pet has a serious phobia of fireworks, you may already be prepared. There are pharmaceutical options to help keep your pets calm. However, if you don’t have a prescription or just want a few more tricks up your sleeve to help your dog or cat stay calm, some of the following tips may help.

First of all, how do you know that your cat or dog is stressed out about all the racket outside? Knowing what to look for can help you handle the situation in a way that works best for your fur baby. Our pets look to us for reassurance and comfort. If your pets aren’t bothered by fireworks, then making a big deal out of them can actually make things worse by creating fear.

 

Signs of Fear in Dogs Signs of Fear in Cats
Excessive barking Excessive grooming
Excessive panting or drooling Open mouth breathing
Excessive licking or scratching Hiding
Hiding or trying to escape Unusually aggressive behavior
Staying unusually close to you Not eating or drinking normally
Shaking or trembling Being restless/pacing
Eliminating in the house Eliminating outside the litter box

 

 

This is not an exhaustive list. You know your pets better than anyone. If they are acting strange and unlike themselves, it’s a good indication that they may be experiencing anxiety. One of the most important things you can do is to act calm and normal. Don’t ever punish your pets for being scared.

Creating a Safe Environment

A few things you can do for both cats and dogs is to create a safe place. Closing the curtains to block flashing lights can help. You can also use white noise or just have the T.V. on so the loud bangs are muffled out and not as shocking as they would be in a quiet room.

Distractions

Distraction can be a useful tool. Toys and treats can keep your pet busy and can help them associate the noise with pleasant experiences. If at all possible, stay home with your pets in order to comfort and calm them. When trying to calm your pet, do so gently. Don’t forcefully pet them or hold on to them if they want to go hide.

Cozy Hiding Spots

Creating a comfortable place to hide can help. Some animals like to hide in the bathtub. Give them a blanket or pillow to make them more comfortable. If your dog is crate trained, he may feel more secure in his crate. However, if your dog is not comfortable in a crate, do not try to keep him in there. He may injure himself trying to escape.

Cat’s generally feel safer high up from the ground. Creating a space up on a shelf with a box lined with blankets can be comforting. If they are hiding, don’t try to hold them or keep them confined. This can increases their stress level. Just make sure they can’t escape from the house.

Long Term Help

Desensitizing your pets can be done, but requires time and consistency. Playing a YouTube video with fireworks or storm sounds at a low volume and rewarding calm behavior can help your pets get used to the sounds. Once they are ok at a low volume, you can increase the sound a little at a time over the course of several weeks.

Hopefully with some tricks up your sleeve, you and your pets can enjoy a wonderful holiday weekend! As always, if your pets have anxiety, and none of these methods help, reach out to your veterinarian for advice.