Keep your pet calm during Fourth of July celebrations.
With Independence Day approaching, it’s a good time to remind your pet-owning friends that fireworks can be extremely frightening, often causing dogs to bolt if not kept securely locked up at home. (Your dog’s hearing is much more acute than yours is.)
In fact, pet detectives report that calls for assistance to find lost pets always increase in the days following Fourth of July fireworks. What happens is that some dogs panic and bolt, running blindly away from the noise. Some will run and hide close by, while others will run for miles.
A single really, negative experience of loud fireworks can have a long-lasting detrimental effect, states Professor Nicholas Dodman, director of the Animal Behavior Department at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University in Grafton. Mass. Dodman, the author of the popular book “The Well-adjusted Dog,” says it’s imperative that dogs be protected from such adverse experiences to avoid scaring them and to help prevent the development of noise phobia.
“Dogs seem to fare worse than cats,” he says. “But that may be because they are more demonstrative. Cats tend to hide and quake with fear in private.”
It’s always best to lock dogs up, and give them all the necessary creature comforts, such as food, water, toys and a bed. You should also close the windows and blinds, and pump up the classical music. This is a good plan even if you aren’t having fireworks in your own backyard because you can be sure someone in your neighborhood will be celebrating with them.
Behaviorists also state that dogs should never be tethered under any circumstances, because this only increases their state of panic and they could harm themselves.
Fortunately, there are many excellent products to help reduce a dog’s fears and anxiety. Garments such as the ThunderShirt are available in all sizes for dogs (and cats). Anxiety wraps work on the principle mothers have used for centuries; that of “wearing their babies” in a sling or blanket strapped close to the body so the baby feels secure and bonded with his or her parent.
Other calming aids include Rescue Remedy or Pet Remedy, which can be added to a water bowl. Pheromone sprays, such as Sentry Calming Spray and Adaptil (and Feliway for cats), also help ease anxiety by mimicking the pheromones mother dogs produce naturally to calm their young. There are also pheromone diffusers that can be plugged into the room where your pets are sequestered. There are even calming collars. If you are considering a collar, be sure to put it on a couple of days beforehand to ensure its efficacy.
Lastly, if you happen to be watching fireworks displays on TV, either turn down the sound so as not to spook your pets or sequester them in another room.
About the Author: Sandy Robins is the 2013 winner of the “Excellence in Journalism and Outstanding Contribution to the Pet Industry Award.” Her work appears on many of the country’s leading pet platforms, such as MSNBC.com, MSN.com and TODAYShow.com. She is a regular contributor and columnist in multiple national and international publications, including Catster, as well as the author of the award-winning books “Fabulous Felines: Health and Beauty Secrets for the Pampered Cat” and “For The Love of Cats.” Learn more about Sandy on her website or Facebook page. #welovecats