Prepare Your Pets for the 4th of July

Fireworks, picnics and other Fourth of July traditions can be great fun for people; but all of the festivities can be frightening and even dangerous for animals. Noisy fireworks and other celebrations can startle animals and cause them to run away; holiday foods can be unhealthy; summer heat and travel can be dangerous; and potentially dangerous debris can end up lying on the ground where pets can eat or play with it.

Whether or not you’re planning your own Independence Day celebration, it’s important to take precautions to keep your pets safe both during and after Fourth of July festivities.

The Fourth of July is one of the busiest days of the year for animal control officers. Lost and terrified pets fill shelters. Booming fireworks cause frightened dogs to jump fences they’ve never jumped before; others leap from their owners’ arms and disappear across a busy street.

An anxious dog may show subtle or dramatic symptoms. He may be panting for no apparent reason, licking his lips, pacing or yawning (he’s not tired).  More extreme signs include trembling, hiding, cowering, clinginess, or other out-of-character behaviors.

If your pet has similar behaviors, the following steps, alone or in combination, may help him get through the holiday with a minimum of stress while preventing disastrous mishaps.

Change the environment: Before the fireworks start, bring your pet indoors and close the curtains to minimize exposure to lights and noise. Provide access to a dark and den-like “safe room” such as a closet where he can hide.

Noise control: Mask scary sounds by running a fan or white noise machine, playing calming classical music , or turning up the television.

Be calm yourself: Try to act as normal as possible, and never punish your dog for being frightened. Punishment will confuse him and scare him. Let him cuddle with you, but speak in a happy tone of voice.

Try calming wraps: Calming clothing wraps snugly around your dog, applying comforting pressure. Think of it as a hug. I’ve often seen an instant change in a dog’s behavior when wearing this type of item.

Add aromatherapy or a calming herbal remedy or flower essence: Flower essences and herbal remedies are highly diluted natural substances that you can apply to a bandana that your dog wears or spritz on his bedding. Examples include lavender, chamomile, vanilla, and valerian.

Pheromones: These chemical substances are naturally produced by animals and help them communicate with each other. For instance a mother dog will produce pheromones that comfort her puppies. Adaptil® is an artificial version of a dog-appeasing pheromone (DAP) that helps reduce anxiety due to fireworks or other stressful situations. Feliway is made for cats. Available as a spray or plug-in diffuser, they are available for purchase at Oaklawn and Cranston Animal Hospital.

If you have any questions regarding or would like to discuss other options (including medicine), please call our office today to make an appointment to speak to our Veterinary team.