Snap, crackle, BOOM! Celebrating our nation’s independence often terrifies dogs and cats. You can keep them safe with a bit of planning and a large dose of compassion.
Here are some ideas to try.
• Hold a Fireworks Party. When you first hear fireworks, or realize your Pet is afraid of loud noises, make it a game. Reward your Pet with a treat and excitedly explain, “It’s a fireworks party!” Build the association between loud noise and a positive outcome. It’s also a good idea to make a Fireworks Party part of puppy training. Done consistently, this could help your dog to avoid future noise-related anxiety.
• Desensitize your dog. Another take on the Fireworks Party, Pet Parents can desensitize and counter-condition their dog to loud noises. Certain sounds (fireworks, thunder, planes flying overhead) are played at a low level so your dog hears it but does not have a negative response. A high-value reward is offered during or immediately after the sound is played. Gradually increase the sound until your dog makes the connection between loud sound and reward. Note: This process can take some time and is not always effective. If it’s not working, stop and try something else.
• Create a safe place. Your dog or cat should always have a place of refuge in your home. That could be their kennel, a closet, or under the bed. Allow your Pet to seek refuge in a dark, quiet spot and keep these places accessible. Turning on the television or a mellow radio station will help drown out the sound of those bombs bursting in air.
• Consider medication. Just like their human counterparts, some Pets suffer severe anxiety attacks. If your Pet is panting or shaking uncontrollably, refusing food and water, give us a call. This may be an extreme case in which medication such as Trazadone or Acempromazine would greatly assist in calming and comforting your Pet.
Other Steps to Take:
• Play with your Pet. A tired Pet is a calm Pet. When playtime is over, move your dog or cat to a quiet place.
• Put a collar on! It’s not unusual for dogs and cats to beat feet out of a fenced yard. Make sure they are wearing a well-fitted collar with an ID tag. Better yet—microchip your Pet! Hannah microchips all Pets on the Total Lifetime Care plan. We can also fetch your lost Pet, let us tell you how.
• Leave your furry friends at home. Put them in a kennel, with plenty of chew toys for distraction, or leave with a pet sitter.
• Try a Thundershirt. These use gentle compression to calm your dog. You can also make one at home. Take an old t-shirt, put your dog’s front legs through the arm holes, then knot the hem over his back.
Pet Parents are the best advocates for their dogs. If you know your dog has anxiety problems and you’ve tried these ideas with little result, anxiety medication can be prescribed. Hannah members are urged to make an appointment by calling 360-816-8000. If you are not a member, but would like more information about fireworks anxiety or about joining Hannah, please give us a call.