Updated: Feb 23, 2020
Fireworks can be entertaining for you, the kids, and even some pets, but many pets suffer from anxiety on and around the Fourth of July because they are afraid of the noise and flashes.
Pets show fear and anxiety in numerous ways, like hiding (most common in cats), panting, drooling, barking, trembling, pacing, vocalizing, or trying to escape. These behaviors often develop between 12 and 24 months of age and will likely worsen over time unless you address them.
To relieve fear and anxiety long term, modify behavior and desensitize with counter conditioning. This is the most difficult and time consuming way to ease your pets’ fears, but it is also the most effective. Generally, you do this by playing sound loops, gradually increasing the volume and praising your pets when they don’t react to the noise.
Here are some general tips to help ease your pet’s fears during firework season:
When you expect commotion, place your pet in a quiet, dark room with soothing music and cozy places to lay.
You can muffle noise further by closing curtains.Block small cubbies.
Leave a few places where your pet can hide safely, but close off cramped spaces where pets (particularly cats and small dogs) could get lost or stuck.
Microchip your pets. Indoor pets can take drastic measures to escape when they’re scared, so make sure all of your pets are microchipped with updated contact information in case they get out.
Try a swaddle blanket or a Thundershirt if your dog is particularly anxious.
Distract your dog or cat with another activity, like toys or massage.
Look into herbal and pheromone options for anxiety and phobia reduction:
Try Adaptil pheromone collars for dogs and Feliway pheromones for cats.
Bach Rescue Remedy can be given orally or dosed in food or water. Try three to five drops to start.
Apply lavender essential oil to your pet’s collar repeatedly to soothe your pet.
Chamomile tablets (like Hyland’s, which is available at most pharmacies) are great at calming pets.
Zylkene contains milk proteins, which have natural calming properties.
Consider over-the-counter medications:
Benadryl: 1x 25mg caplet per 25 lbs
Melatonin: 3 mg tablet per 25 lbs
Valerian 200 mg for a small dog and 400-600 mg for any dog over 50 lbs
Your veterinarian can also prescribe medications if over-the-counter, herbal, and pheromone options aren’t working. Note: Your veterinarian can also prescribe medications if over-the-counter, herbal, and pheromone options aren’t working.
Keep in mind that your pet won’t just hear loud noises on the Fourth of July this summer: LaPorte County Fairgrounds is hosting the Pyrotechnics Guild International from August 6th through 12th this year. If you live in LaPorte, you may want to take special precautions to ease your pets’ fear throughout early August, too.
If your pet becomes anxious over loud noises regularly, plan ahead. Have multiple soothing options available, and, if needed, talk to your Michigan City Animal Hospital veterinarian about prescription anxiety medication or behavior modification.