Large gatherings, unfamiliar people, strange surroundings, and loud noises. For some pet owners this time of year can be stressful; knowing that their anxious pet may experience fear and anxiety instead of having fun on the holiday. Whether it is inviting friends over for a BBQ, taking Fido to the town parade, fireworks or thunderstorms filling the skies, these can all be potential causes for our pets to exhibit behaviors that we want to avoid. Setting up a safe space and making sure you have all the necessary supplies or medications beforehand can help calm your pet so everyone can enjoy the festivities.
Before you head out to enjoy the day, here are 3 tips to keep your pets happy and healthy during the July 4th holiday.
1. Have proper identification on your pet.
Make sure your pet always has a collar or harness on, with ID tags. If you don’t like the “jingly tags” there are websites where you can purchase collars that have your name and phone number sewn directly onto the collar. The collar should fit snug with two fingers fitting between the collar and neck.
Microchipping is another safe way to easily identify your pet if they do go missing or lost. A microchip is the size of a grain of rice and is inserted with a small needle between your pet’s shoulder blades. The procedure is cost effective and can be done by your veterinarian at a routine visit. Microchips are not a locating device but a permanent form of identification that cannot fall off like a collar.
2. Reduce your pet’s anxiety
It is important to try different tactics to distract your pet from all that is going on.
Thundershirts are used to help calm your pet’s anxiety. It is a jacket that your pet wears that applies a calming pressure. Think of it like a weighted blanket.
Adaptil for dogs and Feliway for cats can be used for mild noise phobias. These products mimic natural pheromones and provide a calming effect. Both products come in sprays and diffusers that can last up to 30 days.
Create a safe space in your home that your pets can get away from scary noises, preferably one without windows such as a closet (windows can amplify loud noises). You can also try to use a crate with a blanket over the top if your pet is crate trained. Crate training is something that you want to introduce slowly so the pet sees the crate as a place to calm anxiety and not for punishment. The AKC gives 9 simple tips for crate training.
Background noises can help drown out the noises that may cause a fear reaction in our pets. Interestingly, pets are calmed by classical or reggae music. There is music that is made for cats and dogs called “through the dogs ear” or “through the cats ear” that has been tested and shown to reduce anxiety. Turning on a TV, Radio, a white noise device or a fan can keep loud noises at a distance and keep our pets distracted from outside elements.
Unfortunately, even after all your hard work to prepare the perfect environment with over-the-counter remedies, it may not be enough. Sometimes prescription medication may be the best option. For dogs with high fear and anxiety a Telehealth appointment with your veterinarian to discuss medications that can be given prior to these stressful events can sometimes be the key to keeping your pets anxiety under control.
3. Keep dogs and cats inside your home.
Even our best-behaved pets should be kept indoors when fireworks start in your neighborhood. Even if your pet is used to being outside, the panic caused by fireworks or other loud noises may make them bolt or jump a fence in a terrified attempt to find safety. If your pet does need to go outside for a nature call, make sure you accompany your pet outside, to assure their safety.
Follow these tips, call us if you need us, and have a great 4th of July.