The great celebration of our nation's independence, filled by wonderful firework displays scheduled for many sanctioned locations. Good food, good times, good friends, family visits and gatherings.
But, for some of us pet owners, who have little furry bodies that fear loud noises (or even new people), planning for the 4th of July does not only include buying local corn and making fried chicken.
I am a pet owner that has both a dog and a cat that fear loud noises in close proximity (or that sound like they are in close proximity). Cats are not normally in this category, so our Matty breaks that mold wide open. He prefers to be alone in a quiet place during thunderstorms. He will either be under the bed or have slipped through the cat door into the basement where he hides for quite a bit of time (sometimes a whole day) until things settle down. The more severe the storm, the longer he hides.
Our dog Lilah, and English Setter, has been afraid of loud noises since she was a tiny puppy. Although our property borders a sportsmans club, the gun shots we hear from the range are far enough away that they do not bother Lilah on a daily basis. They also don't shake the ground, like rolling thunder does in particularly bad storms.
Noise Anxiety is a very real thing. For a GREAT ARTICLE on noise anxiety, CLICK HERE.
Safety Tips for Dogs with Noise Anxiety
1. Don't take a pet with you to firework displays.
By all means, go out and enjoy the displays at local area celebration sites, but don't take your pet. Even dogs who are totally sensitized and good with loud noises, can suddenly become fearful of a number of things that TOGETHER cause enough anxiety to cause bolting or other fear reactions. I have never understood people who insist on bringing their dogs to fireworks displays.
2. Create a safe haven spot for your fearful pet.
Whether it's a blanket-draped crate or access to areas in the house your pet considers safe, by giving them control over where they want to go, is a step to helping them to feel safer. During thunderstorms, or when closer neighbors insist on shooting off fireworks, Lilah needs to be on either my, or my husband's lap, or in very close proximity to us (like hiding under a desk while we work, so we can touch her occasionally for reassurance).
3. Watch for signs of anxiety overload.
Obvious shaking, pacing, panting and whining activity, are key indicators your dog is stressed. Remove your dog from stress-point activities. Take your dog for a walk early in the day on the fourth, to avoid possible interaction with loud nightly activities. Never tie your dog outside (I am not a fan of this at any time, by the way) if you know fireworks will be set off in your neighborhood. Never even leave your pet alone in a fenced-in yard during such times.
Always make sure that your dog's ID tags, licensing and any medical alerts are up to date and placed safely on your dog. We use both a collar and harness system here. Our identification information (license, rabies tag, name/phone number contact tag) is on the neck collar, which is secured so it cannot slip over the dog's head. Our leash is always attached to the harness. For our deaf dogs (we have two), their name tag has a large print I AM DEAF on the reverse side. When our cat Gus was alive, his name tag read DIABETIC on the reverse. Our dog Danny has FEARFUL DOG on the reverse of his name tag. Any major health-related issues should be placed somewhere as identifiers on your dog.
5. Time Alone from Gatherings
If you are having a gathering or party and even if your dog enjoys company, be sure to still offer them time alone or away from the crowd. They will let you know if they want to come back into the fold.
6. Speak to Your Veterinarian
When things escalate enough that you find it hard to keep your dog calm during noise anxiety moments, be sure to speak to your veterinarian about treatment possibilities. We do have a course of calming medications for Lilah, but as long as we are here, with a lap or quiet space to offer and guard, she does make it through without the use of medication.
Personally, we are always sure to be at home on the 4th (we can attend other fireworks displays on other dates surrounding the 4th, but the 4th is the most active day in our area) and we watch our weather predictions carefully for storms and make sure we are home, for Lilah, on those days as well.
Dogs are individuals. Some can be desensitized to loud noise, while nothing seems to work for others. Let's keep their individual needs in mind as we move forward to celebrate another July 4th!
I am part of a weekly blogging group of professional pet photographers located all over the planet. To see what others have blogged about in this week's topic, start here with Houston Pet Photographer, Kelly Russo, as she shares some tips for keeping your pup happy and safe during the Fourth of July festivities.
Then find the link at the end of each blog to click on to the next photographer.
Have a great weekend. Celebrate your 4th safely!