Fireworks shows and spectacles might seem like an amazing and fun way to spend the 4th of July with family and friends, but our furry four-legged pals don’t always see it that way.
If you are like me I dread this time of year along with New Years Eve and other holidays where fireworks are set off both by professional companies and the local kids. Both of my pups are not fans of fireworks and I know some of my dog friends even have pups that act as if the world is ending and they end up cowering in the closet under some dirty laundry or even try to escape the house through a sliding glass door. In fact, more dogs go missing on the 4th of July than any other day of the year due to fear caused by fireworks.
It is important to remember that what might sound distant is actually much louder for our dogs and so they have every right to be frightened. Plus, they have no way of understanding what the strange and loud noises are. But fret not because here are a few tips to help keep your pups calm and safe during this 4th of July holiday.
Stay home with your dog
If you can try to stay home with your dog during the 4th of July holiday to monitor his/her behavior for anything out of the norm. If you must leave your dog alone secure him/her in a space where he/she cannot hurt him/herself. Try setting him/her up in a room of the house away from windows and the outdoors (pick the most well insulated room in terms of sound). Turn on some calming music (my pups personally really enjoy classical music), and distract them with treats and perhaps a Kong filled with peanut butter or even cream cheese. But really, the best thing to do is stay home to provide reassurance.
Apply a calming paw balm
Lavender has been proven to be a soothing agent for humans and dogs alike and can help your dog remain calm during the local fireworks show. Watson’s Pawesome Paw Balm is made with all natural ingredients and infused with lavender essential oil for a calming effect. So you’ll be able to soothe your dog and soften his/her paws at the same time!
Try a thunder shirt or weighted blanket
It has been proven that thundershirts and weighted blankets that provide pressure at critical points on a dog can provide a calming effect similar to swaddling a crying infant. This gentle pressure releases endorphins in your dog’s body which helps promote a sense of well-being.
Exercise your dog
Take time earlier in the day to give your dog a good workout. Tired dogs tend to be calmer and therefore more easy to keep quiet. Plus, tired dogs tend to sleep more deeply and will be less likely to be disturbed by the noise of the fireworks.
Use a melatonin supplement
There are all kinds of natural supplements with melatonin you can try. We’ve used Quiet Moments with a lot of success and can easily be picked up at our local pet store. The special formulated treats provide a small dose of melatonin which occurs naturally in the body and aids in communicating to your body when it is time to sleep. This is the same for dogs and a tired or sleepy dog tends to remain more calm. If you aren’t sure where to start consult with your vet.
Provide a safe place inside for your dog to retreat
Even if you stay home make sure that you provide a safe place for your dog to retreat. Remember that dogs are den animals and tend to want to be in a safe, relatively enclosed space where they will feel safe. If your dog like his/her crate this is a good option. If not, try setting up a small space in your closet, under the bed, or anywhere your dog likes to “hide” when they are scared. Provide your dog with his/her favorite bed or blanket and perhaps a toy. Most importantly, respect your dog’s fear when he/she retreats. Do not attempt to force your dog to come out, but instead let your dog decide when he/she thinks it is safe to come out and hang with the family again.
Close windows and curtains
By closing your windows and drawing the curtains can help your dog remain calm. Not only will it help dampen the sound of the fireworks, but it will eliminate the visual. By taking away the visual of the fireworks exploding in the sky lessens the amount of stimulation your dog is exposed to and will help keep him/her calm.
Dogs often pick up on our cues so if you are tense then your dog will be tense. Around this time of year with fireworks going on for almost a week try to keep yourself calm and not tense up when you hear fireworks because you are anticipating your dog’s fear. If you give off a nervous or tense energy then you can actually make his/her fear worse.
Consult your vet
If your dog has a severe reaction to fireworks and you have tried the above techniques without much success it might be time to consult your vet for suggestions and ot prescription medications. Too much stress and fear is not good for your dog over the long run and can eventually start affecting their health.
Perhaps the most important part of keeping your dogs safe this 4th of July season is making sure they have tags with current information like their name and your phone number. If your dog isn’t already microchipped you might want to consider doing it. If for whatever reason your dog does escape your home the microchip can provide a lot of information to a vet or shelter if he/she is brought in by a good samaritan or animal control. And lastly, take a recent photo of your dog (that is if you don’t already have 500 photos from earlier in the week) so that you have a good visual reference for what your dog looks like in the unlikely event that he/she gets out.
We hope you have a safe, fun, and hopefully stress free Independence Day holiday with your pup!