Many neighborhoods have their own fireworks going on the entire week leading up to the July Fourth holiday. If you happen to live close to a local fireworks show, then it can really get scary! Here’s a few thoughts if you have a stressed-out pet this week:
– This time of year is when many animals get lost! To boot, most shelters and animal control facilities are closed for the holiday. The scary noises can make a normally calm dog or cat run out of an open door with no warning. Use caution when going in or out during fireworks, and confine your pet to a safe room (or more soundproof basement) if needed. It’s best not to leave them outside unattended while fireworks are exploding in the vicinity.
– If you can’t escape the fireworks, bringing your pet to a basement or the center of the house may be away from the noise enough to take the edge off. Background music helps as well!
– Prescription medications that help with anxiety are available, so talk to your vet! There are several different types, and some pets benefit more from one than another. Sometimes these take some trial and error to see which medication and dose is ideal for your pet. It’s important to note that a sedative is not the same as an anti-anxiety medication! For example, acepromazine is a commonly prescribed sedative, but does nothing for anxiety, so it’s probably not the best choice for a scared pet.
– Many dogs do well with the Thundershirt. They feel like a hug, and take the stress level down just a notch.
– Contrary to the myth, comforting your pet if he or she is scared is OK! I read a quote from a behaviorist that makes it very concise: “Behaviors can be re-inforced, emotions cannot. Fear is not a behavior, but an emotion. Comforting your pet will not reinforce the fear emotion and make them more scared next time.” It may help him or her get through the event more peacefully.