It is the Fourth of July- Fireworks abound, loud noises occurring perhaps for hours. While we humans are oohing and aahing, too often our pets are frightened out of their wits. They’ll spend the holiday under the bed (or in the basement) cowering, shaking, drooling and seeking safety and comfort.
The best defense against Fourth of July problems is a good offense. Please provide your pets with a safe hiding place inside your home during the holiday fireworks or a severe thunderstorm. Dogs and cats who are comfortable in crates can find them a good place to ride out the noise, especially if the crate is put in a quiet, darkened part of the house.
The best thing would have been to have started “socializing” your pet to fireworks and thunderstorms ahead of time. Of course, this may not be possible. The optimal time to start would be when they are a puppy or kitten. But don’t give up hope if your dog/cat is already an adult. New behaviors can be learned.
One way to help your pet is to expose him or her to commercial recordings of thunderstorms or fireworks and play them at increasing volume. Play the recordings at a low volume initially while giving praise and treats. As the volume and duration are increased during subsequent sessions, give them really tasty treats as well. Initially we suggest playing the recording for five minutes, eventually leaving it on during daily activities as “normal” background noise.
Another option for your dog is a “thunder jacket”. It works the same way as swaddling a baby does, calming your dog. The gentle pressure provides a calming effect. Of course, some pets are so unhinged by noise that veterinary-prescribed tranquilizers from our office, Steinway Court Veterinarian are needed to keep them calm. Remember to call well in advance of the holiday, and give the medications as recommended — they usually work best before the rockets’ red glare begins.