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Fireworks and Our Pets

The 4th of July is just around the corner and with it our nation’s celebration of Independence Day. And as President John Adams wrote, “ [Independence Day]… ought to be celebrated by pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other…” Unfortunately our pets don’t always enjoy this pomp and circumstance and many are downright frightened of all the noise. There are, however, some things that can be done to help with this situation.

Here are some signs your pet may be anxious or frightened. Panting or pacing is often seen, especially in dogs. Cats or dogs may hide and stay isolated from their normal environment. They may drink more water and in extreme circumstances, may even attempt to get out of their house; some dogs have even broken through windows to get out.

Of course there are some ways to desensitize your pets and modify their behavior.  If there is a way to duplicate the sound of fireworks or work with your dog during fireworks desensitization may help. The idea here is to work with the sound at such a low level initially that your pet is not bothered. Reward them with treats and praise and gradually increase the volume or reduce the proximity to the fireworks and continue to reward as long as they are calm and distracted.  For a more complete description visit this article on Fireworks Phobia.

Of course many of us either haven’t had time to prepare for the booming 4th or our pets are too nervous to successfully overcome their fear. In such cases there are options. First bring them inside the house for their safety and to reduce the sound intensity. Other options include the use of synthetic pheromones such as Feliway for cats and Adaptil for dogs. These are sprays or mist that aerosolize synthetic versions of natural pheromones and often act to calm our pets. Providing your pet with distractions such as favorite toys or food can help. There are other ideas to help in the information sheet Fear of Fireworks.

Finally, medication may be necessary. These range from medications for anxiety to tranquilizers to help calm your dog. We work with many pets who need some help in this way and it often makes the difference between a miserable holiday and one that is manageable for our companions and even fun for us.

Give us a call if you have concerns and we’ll be happy to help you and your pet have as happy a 4th of July as possible.

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