Fireworks: How to Keep Pets Safe, Comfortable
If your dogs are stressed by the loud noises that accompany fireworks, there are a few things you can do to help ease their anxiety and keep them safe. Photo by Can Stock Photo Inc./ganchclub
We celebrate the Fourth of July this weekend, and I dread holidays that include fireworks celebrations. The noises that accompany those light-filled sky displays absolutely terrify my dogs.
However, there are a few things you can do to ease your pets’ fear and keep them safe.
If your dogs are anxious around loud noises, try these tips to help them get through the holiday weekend with as little stress as possible:
- Create a pet-approved safe space. Offer them access to an area where they feel safe or an interior room of the house with no windows and turn on a radio, television, or fan to help muffle the noise of the fireworks. This approach is successful with dogs who like to hide to alleviate their fear. Other dogs may need to move around and be active when they are afraid.
- Use an anxiety vest. You can buy these in most places pet supplies are sold. You can also try a snug-fitting T-shirt.
- Try distraction. Offer your pet a treat-delivering toy or play a game your dog enjoys. This works best when your dog is just beginning to feel anxious. You may not be able to hold their attention for the entire duration of the fireworks. Anytime they begin to act anxious, stop the activity -- you could reinforce their fear if you continue the activity.
- Consult your veterinarian if your dog has severe anxiety. Get their advice on how to calm your pet. While there are medications that can help, only your veterinarian can help you decide if that approach is safe and helpful for your pet.
Behavior modification can help reduce your pet’s anxiety over time. The proper way to do this is gradually over an extended period. In some cases, you may need professional help to be successful with this type of counterconditioning. Consult your veterinarian if you have questions about this type of training.
When there’s a lot of activity and loud noises, I always stay home with my pets. That way I can keep them indoors and lessen the chances that they will attempt to run away out of fear. If keeping your dog indoors is not an option, be sure he is wearing a collar with your contact information in case he gets lost. You can also consider microchipping your pets, and be sure to keep the contact information up-to-date.
Did you know fireworks are toxic to pets and wildlife?
Fireworks contain chemicals and heavy metals that are dangerous and potentially deadly to pets and wildlife. Make sure your pets don’t have access to fireworks before or after they’ve been lit.
For more information about keeping your pet safe and reducing their anxiety related to fireworks and other loud noises, visit the Humane Society of the United States and the Pet Poison Helpline web pages.
Mississippi’s summer heat has arrived, and we’ve experienced dangerous temperatures already. This kind of heat can be deadly to our pets. Learn more about how to protect your dogs from warm weather and a few other summertime risks.
Visit the Pets page of the Extension website for information about pet care.
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