Preparing your pets for July 4th fireworks

By on June 26, 2014

Our pets are always a focal point in our daily lives, but the holidays can (whether purposely or not) shift our focus away from them. Whether you are entertaining family and friends, stuck preparing food in the kitchen, or out running errands in preparation for celebrations and holiday festivities, it’s easy to forget about the needs of our pets. Independence Day is one of the foremost and busiest holidays of the summer, but it is also perhaps the day/week that our pets need the most attention.

Fireworks, a larger-than-usual number people around your home, and unfamiliar routines can make our dogs and cats very anxious. Here at Pets In Omaha, we’ve scoured the web and researched a few things that can help you and your pet stay grounded, comfortable, and ready for the holiday and the bustle that accompanies it. Here are a number of tips and helpful ideas for you to use during the first week of July:

The folks at Petside spoke with Debbie Jacobs, a dog-lover who specializes in the treatment of pets’ anxiety- especially during our often noisy July 4th celebrations. Among the tips listed in their research, is a big idea- don’t ignore your pet’s anxiety. As in people, dogs need special attention when feeling nervous or scared. Jacobs indicates that “anything we can do that lowers a dog’s stress and anxiety will help us get an improvement in their behavior.” Simply leaving a dog alone while it cowers under the bed or in a corner will only increase the level of discomfort. When we include our pets in social activities that we expect them to be ok with, we are more likely to promote positive behaviors like tolerance and comfort during these uncomfortable situations. Make sure your puppy is close, reward it with treats or belly rubs, and do your best to keep everything as calm as possible. Ignoring your pet and hoping the anxiety will disappear simply doesn’t work. The more you comfort your pet during the times of “booms” and “bangs” will only promote the idea that everything will be ok. Remedies other than simple affection, according to the article linked above, include over the counter herbs and pills, even a shirt you can put on your dog called the “Thundershirt.” This garment works with your dog’s body to help reduce stress during firework shows and thunderstorms. Check out the story for more detailed information.

The Huffington Post also offers a number of tips to help you prepare for and act during firework shows with your pup. Among the tips in their article about caring for your dog during the 4th are:

  • play soothing music to create an environment of calmness before the big bangs start to happen
  • ask your vet for “reinforcements” that can help your dog stay calm
  • prepare an exit strategy if your dog begins to panic during a show
  • have crates, leashes, and other typically-used dog equipment ready so you can control your pet and make them feel like nothing out of the ordinary is happening

If you’ve watched any amount of pet-related programming on television, you know Cesar the “Dog Whisperer.” He’s one of the foremost dog trainers out there, and his take on the 4th is interesting. Cesar indicates here that more dogs get frightened and run away from home during the 4th and its festivities. His proposal is that you simply keep dogs away from areas that will be scary, like firework shows. He also understands that you know know your dog better than anyone. This is important in that you will know what to expect from your puppy when the loud noises begin. If you think your dog can handle the noise (hunting dogs, for example, are used to loud “bangs”), try it out. If you are unsure, it’s best to keep them away. Another great tip he offers is to give your pooch an extended workout or walk before the shows begin. A tired dog may simply sleep through the noise.

Laura Garber is another prominent trainer and has been appearing on the Today Show to answer viewer questions about dogs and the 4th here. She also understands the holiday can be stressful for dogs and answers specific questions about how to deal with the often terrifying time for pets. She echoes some of the above information and even provides specific pharmacological remedies for super-stressed pups. Xanax is an anti-anxiety medication that is often dispensed for dogs around this time of year. Check with your vet to see if pills are the way to go for your dog. Also check the Today Show’s Web site for more features leading up to the holiday week.

The are many opinions about protecting your pets during the often scary first week in July, but many are agreed upon. In summation, keep these things in mind when preparing your pets (dogs especially) for Independence Day:

  • try to create a soothing environment
  • try to keep routines the same
  • exercise and walk a bit more so your pup is more likely to sleep through the shows
  • have crates, leashes, and anxiety-killing supplies handy
  • reward your dog for positive, normal behavior during the week

A little preparation goes a long way when keeping your pets happy and safe for the 4th. Remember these tips, comfort your dog, and have a great 4th!



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