The night sky lights up in July as fireworks celebrate our 4th of July holiday. But what we humans see as beauty sparkling in the sky, to cats and dogs these sounds are truly bombs bursting in air, and the noise causes more than just a bit of anxiety among pets. In fact, animal shelter population will increase 30% over the holiday weekend, and according to the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, more pets go missing over the Fourth of July weekend than any other time of the year.
How to Identify Stress
Anxious pets are often highly reactive and unable to settle – jumping at the slightest sound or movement. Visible signs of stress include dilated pupils, sweaty paws, shaking, excessive vocalization, excessive panting, hiding under furniture, and/or salivation.
Other manifestations of stress and anxiety come in the form of self-calming techniques such as yawning, sneezing, lip licking or intense displacement behavior such as sniffing, licking, excessive grooming, spinning or self mutilation. Some dogs may display symptoms that look very much like human depression, including the inability to sleep, low energy, lack of appetite and a limited desire for human or dog interaction.
How can you help?
To help you and your pets make it safely through this upcoming holiday or even through one of Colorado’s typical afternoon thunderstorms this summer, here are some Dos and Don’ts:
- Do secure your pet in a comfortable crate or lock them in a room where they can’t flee. When frightened, most pets prefer small, enclosed spaces.
- Do turn up the music or TV: anything to help mask the sound of fireworks or thunder.
- Do make certain they have water and food readily available. In a fearful situation, unfamiliar food can make your pet even more anxious or even ill, so stick to food you know they like.
- Do provide them with chewable toys or treats as a distraction.
- Do get a collar ID and microchips so you can find them if they run away.
- Don’t take your dog to watch fireworks, unless it’s a noise-trained police K-9 or a guide dog.
- Don’t leave your pets outside where they can jump or dig to escape the yard.
- Don’t approach an animal that appears afraid, as they may lash out at you or run away.
- Don’t attempt to reassure your dog when he/she is afraid. Petting or giving treats when she is acting fearful may be interpreted as a reward.
- Don’t attempt to hold your cat – for obvious reasons.
Consider Tactile Therapy:
Many pet owners swear by body wraps that reportedly help dogs and cats with all sorts of anxiety issues that come from loud noises, strangers, car rides or visits to the vet. If you’re skeptical about tactile therapy, there are videos online that may persuade you otherwise. Here’s one to watch:
The two best selling wraps are:
- The Anxiety Wrap