As we fire up the barbecues and stockpile the fireworks for our nation’s loudest holiday, it may not occur to us that our pets may not be as enthusiastic. The loud noises typically found during the Fourth of July celebrations can cause panic, self-harm and hundreds of thousands of lost pets every year. Read these seven tips for keeping your pets safe and happy during the upcoming holiday so you both can enjoy the celebrations to the fullest:
Inside Is the New Hotspot:
Even if your pets are happy as clams staying outside the majority of the time, this is one day to bring them in. When loud bangs and whistles start going, cats, dogs, and any other animals outside indulge in their flight or fight response (and most will choose flight). Pet parents who think that their fence is inescapable are generally the ones scrambling to look for fluffy on July 5th. Cats and dogs should be brought in to a secure space inside where they can feel comfy and safe, if only for this night.
Check the Windows and The Doors:
A pet who is startled and panicked will likely get very creative when trying to run away, creativity which often results in forced doors and windows. While the night might be perfect for screen doors and open windows, this is a good time to secure all the openings in the house and turn on the air conditioning. Cats and dogs who are startled by loud noises have been known to cause extraordinary damage to doors and fences that get in the way of their escape, making sure all the exits are closed off in your house is a good way to minimize damage.
Consider Adding Some Gentle Noise of Your Own:
Just because most pets react to the loud sounds of the fireworks display typical on this national holiday doesn’t mean that all sounds are bad. Many pets are soothed by white noises, such as electric fans and static sounds. Other pets enjoy noises from the tv or radio, especially if this is something you normally have on when you are home. Once your pet is snug as a bug in their room, turn on some tunes for them to listen to that may mask some effects of the fireworks.
Company Keeps Them Calm:
Maybe you have a family member or friend who also doesn’t like the festivities and loud noises. If so, this would be an excellent opportunity to give your pets some company during a time when they are most likely to panic. This does not mean to bring your pets with you, as going closer to the sounds and crowds of people is more likely to cause panic for your pet. Instead, leave a battle buddy at home who can comfort and distract your pets when they start to tremble. Both parties will be happier for the quieter environment.
Wear Them Out Before the Show:
A tired animal is a well-behaved animal. Dogs and cats who are exhausted from the activity are much less likely to overreact to other stimuli. Since July often offers excellent weather for outdoor sports, consider bringing your dog with you to the lake or park to catch some frisbees and be with the family. Your cat would love the attention of playing a good game of ‘catch the mouse’ and can be worn out at home with a new toy. By the time the sun goes down, and the fireworks are scheduled, you will have plenty of time to secure your pup and cat in their perfect comfort spot.
Update Your Microchip Information:
No matter how much preparation, sometimes our plans go astray and our pets get out of the house. The fact that they are actively running from something on the Fourth just means they are likely to run farther. As the holiday approaches, review the information listed on your pets’ microchips, take an updated photo of them in case you need to make flyers, and look up the numbers of your local animal shelters, so you have them handy. If your pet does manage to get out of the house, all this information will make it easier to start looking for them right away.
Medication Can Be a Blessing:
Not all pets can be comforted, no matter what preparations we take at home. Especially if your dog has a long-established phobia of fireworks, they may be destructive and fearful no matter if you follow everyone’s advice. For the worst-case scenarios, phone or visit your vet to get their recommendation on safely sedating your pet for the evening. While this is not a step to take lightly, it may be recommended if your pet is especially fearful of loud noises and is likely to hurt themselves or others. Your vet can recommend whether this step is best for your animals based on your individual case. Please do not undertake sedation of your pet without medical advice.
While most people think dogs are the only ones who overreact to loud noises and bright lights, cats, and even small rodents can show extremely fearful behaviors that can lead to harm to themselves or others. When preparing your furry loved ones for the national holiday, include all your pets in your plan to comfort them, not just your dogs.
Speak with your local pet professional, such as 2 Paws Up, Inc. to see how they can help you as you celebrate America’s Independence Day.
Places to watch the fireworks in Gwinnett County:
Fireworks after sunset
Parade Starts at 5:00 P.M.
Block party spread throughout the city
Fireworks after sunset
E.E. Robinson Park*
850 Level Creek Road
Fireworks after sunset
Duluth Town Green*
Mall of Georgia*
3333 Buford Drive NE
Approximately 9:35 P.M.
Lilburn City Park
*Update July 1, 2018: The author previously supplied incorrect times for the fireworks displays, all items with an asterisk have been updated and verified as correct.