Fourth of July celebrations can be loud and confusing for pets, causing anxiety, fear, and even aggression. It’s important to prepare ahead of time to ensure your pets have a stress-free Independence Day. Keep reading for our top tips on how to prepare your pets for fireworks and have a pet-friendly Fourth of July.
LEADING UP TO THE FOURTH
Check that your pet’s microchip ID is up to date, and/or make sure their collar and tags are snugly attached. If your pets use a cat or dog door flap, double-check that you have a secure way to seal it closed the day of fireworks. More pets go missing from July 4th-6th than any other time of year. Animal control officials across the country regularly report a 30-60% increase in lost pets each year around the Fourth of July, so it is incredibly important to be sure pets have all proper identification and to do your best to prevent them from getting outside.
Research firework displays in your area so that you can plan ahead on those days. Talk to your neighbors and ask if they are planning any celebrations or other gatherings that may set off noisemakers and fireworks.
If you know that your pet is extremely anxious during the Fourth, talk to your vet about possible medications they can prescribe, or get their advice on milder over-the-counter treatments like CBD treats and other hemp calming supplements.
If your pet is new to your family, and you are unsure how they will react, a good gauge is to reference how they respond to thunder and lighting. Keep in mind that fireworks are louder, more frequent, and much more intense on pets’ heightened senses.
ON THE DAY OF
Give your dog plenty of exercise during the day so that they are tired by the evening. If your dog is friendly to other dogs, try taking them to a local dog park, or spend a day out in nature hiking one of the many local trails.
Feed your dog before fireworks begin as the sounds and unfamiliar smells may cause your pet to be too anxious to eat.
Create a quiet, safe space for your pet to retreat to. Fill this space with their favorite toys, bedding, and other familiar-smelling and comforting items. If possible, make sure they cannot see outside in this space so they are not frightened by bright flashing lights.
Dogs are more likely to drink water when anxious, so it is a good idea to have ready access to water for them. Be sure to monitor their water intake so they don’t have to go outside for a potty break until after fireworks have calmed down.
Try not to coddle your pets or reflect their anxiety. Dogs and cats are extremely intelligent and sensitive animals who look to us to determine whether they should be afraid. Act normally and be a calm, grounding presence for your pet during fireworks.
Pets may act out during fireworks: damaging furniture or property, having accidents or barking loudly. It’s important not to discipline your pets for these behaviors as this will only heighten their fear and anxiety. Instead, reward calm behavior with treats and play, and redirect them from the negative behaviors.
If you are going out for the Fourth of July, give your pet a new toy, frozen treat, or puzzle toy such as a lick mat or treat-dispensing chew. You can also leave TV or radio playing to help distract from the loud sounds. If your pet is a new family member and you don’t yet know how they will react to fireworks, it’s a good idea to stay home to help them remain calm, and teach them not to be afraid of fireworks for future celebrations.