Some pets don't even seem to notice fireworks going off on the 4th of July and others freak out. With America's birthday just around the corner, now is the time to figure out how to help your dog have a safe and less stressful 4th of July.
Did you know that more pets go missing during the 4th of July holiday than at any other time of the year? Follow these tips to keep your dog safe this Independence Day.
If your pet isn't microchipped, do it now!
Any veterinarian can do this for you and the charge is nominal (less than $25 as part of a visit). If the vet's office doesn't register the chip for you, be sure that you do.
According to PetLink, a national pet recovery service, you should definitely update your pet's microchip information with the chip's registry site. It's very important that your contact information is complete and up-to-date.
Also make sure your beloved pet has at least one tag with your phone number and the phone number and/or web address that is linked with his microchip.
'Home Sweet Home' is best
Unless your dog is very laid back and used to loud noises, he's probably better off at home. If you take him along to the show, he'll have to deal with an unfamiliar location, crowds of strangers, those weird flashes of bright light, and all of that noise!
If you do decide to take him along, it's best to double leash him. Attach one leash to his collar with those all-important ID tags and the second leash to a more slip-proof harness. Two people on the ends of those leashes adds an extra layer of security.
Keep him in your lap or between your legs. Not only will he feel more secure, but you're less likely to forget about keeping a tight grip on that leash! Oh, and don't forget his water bowl. Stressed dogs pant more and can easily become dehydrated.
Don't change your dog's routine
Dogs are creatures of habit and the 4th is a very atypical day! This is not the best time to try out a new dog park or decide your dog should wear a harness for the first time in his life. Keep things as normal as possible in the days leading up to the 4th and especially on the big day!
Take your pet for an extra long walk early on the 4th
Giving your pet plenty of exercise before the excitement starts will help tire him out - and it's easier for a tired dog to relax. He'll be too tired to pace anxiously. Just make sure that you exercise him in a familiar place where he feels comfortable and relaxed. Contact us if you need help tiring out your pet. Our experienced dog walkers can give him the exercise of his life!
Take him out again just before dark so he has a chance to relieve himself while he's still relaxed. It's best to do this on a leash in case firecrackers start going off prematurely.
Keep your dog inside
Even dogs that spend most of their time outside need to be inside on the 4th. No matter how secure your fence is, a terrified dog can too often find a way over, under, or even through a fence.
Besides, even calm dogs don't understand the hazards of firework debris. They can scorch their nose or paws trying to sniff or bat that weird thing that fell from the sky or even catch their fur on fire.
It's even worse if they try to taste it. Some fireworks contain poisonous heavy metals or arsenic!
No coddling allowed!
We love our pets and it's natural to want to comfort them when they're scared. Don't do it! If you comfort a pet who is exhibiting fearful behavior, you are rewarding and reinforcing that behavior. You're also unintentionally telling him that he's right to be afraid.
Instead, stay calm and relaxed around your pet. Speak to him in an upbeat, cheerful voice. Because dogs are so good at reading micro-expressions and picking up on our moods, being confident and relaxed can help your pet feel the same way.
Instead, give him a super special treat or toy
A fun new toy or super-yummy treat can help distract your pet. Fill the inside of a Kong toy with canned dog food or peanut butter and freeze it for a 'pupsicle' that might keep your dog's mind busy with other things besides the fireworks going off.
Provide your pet with a 'safe' place
Frightened pets instinctively try to find a cozy 'den' where they feel safe. If he's crate trained, put a towel or small blanket over a wire crate so it feels darker and more den-like. Just don't block the air flow.
If your pet isn't crate trained, try putting his bed in a small room or closet in the quietest part of the house and dim the lights. If you leave a shirt you've worn recently with him, your scent will comfort him.
You can block some of the unusual flashes of light and strange sounds by closing the blinds or drapes and playing familiar music on the radio.
It's important let your pet stay his 'safe' place even after the light show is over. It may take several hours before he's back to his normal, happy self.
Create quiet ambiance with sound
Most pups and kitties are used to hearing music or the television. These 'normal' sounds are preferable to the strange noises going on outside. To keep your pet's nerves as calm as possible, classical music is probably better than hard rock or car chases! Through a Dog's Ear is therapeutic music created specifically to help ease dog anxiety.
Try an anxiety preventative
Many pet owners report excellent results from using Rescue Remedy or Canine Calm with their anxious dogs. If these natural remedies don't work, your vet might prescribe a short course of an anti-anxiety medicine.
This pressure wrap swaddles an anxious pet and helps him calm down. As this study explains: "The effect of moderate to deep pressure on soft tissue has been studied in both humans and non-human animals with positive results shown in reducing anxiety and promoting relaxation."
Besides fireworks, the Thundershirt also helps with its namesake thunder as well as separation anxiety!
With some forethought, a little preparation, and oodles of love for your pet, both you and your pet can enjoy the 4th of July safely.
If you and your pet would like to become a Brooklyn Barkers, click on Barkley to the left.