10 Tips to Prevent Pet Fireworks Fears

by Amy D. Shojai (Subscribe to Amy D. Shojai’s posts)
Jun 28th 2011 @ 1:00PM Filed Under: Pet Health

 Fireworks from July 4th celebration may be festive to you, but can turn your pets into nervous wrecks. More cats and dogs–and even livestock like horses–become lost on this day than any other when pets panic, go through windows, break tethers and leap fences.

Even safely contained pets shiver, moan, and feel worse with each noisy boom. You may not see quivering scaredy cats, but the stress from noise phobia increases risk of hit-or-miss litter box behavior.

It can take weeks or even months for desensitization and counter-conditioning techniques to teach fearful pets that noises won’t hurt them. With Independence Day right around the corner, refer to these 10 tips for more immediate help.

1. Scared animals calm themselves down by squeezing into tight spots and hiding their eyes. For instance, a dog wriggles between the sofa and wall, while a cat hides its face in your armpit. Offer your pets safe hiding place and let them be.

2. Avoid sympathetic baby-talk that rewards the fear. When you get upset or coddle your cat and dog during fireworks, you tell them they have good reason to be scared. Instead, be matter of fact. When it “booms” you can acknowledge the noise, “That was loud. But it doesn’t bother me, see? It shouldn’t bother you.”

3. Anti-anxiety training tools can help. Anxiety Wrap and Thundershirt are types of dog “vests” the pet wears that apply pressure to his body, and seem to calm fear in pets.

4. Cover up the sound with white noise. Use a white noise machine or a radio tuned to static works well.

5. Play soothing music. Harp music has a unique sedative effect on pets, because the rhythms and sounds mimic brain waves and help calm the fear. Harp music may prompt you to nap, too.

6. Pheromone products also relieve fear and anxiety in pets. Comfort Zone with DAP (dog appeasing pheromone) works well for noise-phobic dogs-it’s produced by mom-dogs when they nurse pups and sooths dogs of any age. The product for cats, Feliway, relieves the cat’s anxiety about its territory because it’s similar to the cheek-pheromone that relieves a cat’s stress. Both DAP and Feliway come as sprays or plug-in diffusers and the dog product also comes as a collar. The spray can be used every one to two hours on bedding or a bandana the pet wears.

7. Just as human babies may be soothed by a car ride, a road trip may soothe pets that enjoy the car and take their mind off the noise. Just be sure your cat or dog is safely secured in a carrier or restraint in the back seat during the ride.

8. The brain can’t think when in a state of panic. But the opposite holds true as well. When thinking, the brain won’t go nutso and turn your pet into a shrieking escape artist. So just before the fireworks start, drill your dog or your cat on favorite commands and tricks with lots of special yummy rewards or games.

9. Whatever you do, be sure that your pets stays safe. Bring outdoor pets inside the garage or the house during the holiday. Provide a crate or confinement in a pet-proofed room.

10. Move horses into secure fenced areas or barns that will safely contain a frantic animal without chance of injury. And just in case, be sure all your pets are microchipped or have other permanent and reliable identification for recovery if they do the desperado dash when the rocket’s red glare fills the sky.


If you have any tips, please post them as a comment. Thank you all!


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