Memorial Day is just around the corner, and all pet owners know that this holiday sparks the beginning of the celebratory fireworks season. While there are many wonderful experiences to enjoy with your pups during the warmer summer month, there is one experience that dogs (and other pets) do not enjoy: the dreaded cacophony of celebratory fireworks.
Luckily, there are some steps you can take to help your pup make it through a noisy evening without incident, and we are here to help with some tried and true recommendations!
Before the Fireworks Begin
Be Sure Your Pet’s Tags are Current
July 5th is one of the busiest days for shelters across the country, as shelter employees scramble to reunite pets who bolted during noisy festivities with their owners. You can expedite the process by ensuring your pet’s identification tags are current and the phone number on the tag is accurate. If your pet is microchipped, check if the registration and contact information on the microchip is current as well – most require yearly renewal and a small fee to continue serving their purpose. A GPS tracker attached to your pet’s collar could be a helpful addition as well; even dogs that aren’t usually inclined to bolt may do so under stress.
Allow Your Pet To Experience Fireworks in Advance
To desensitize your pet to the fireworks experience, we suggest putting on the sounds of fireworks before the day the real thing is scheduled to take place. Luckily, YouTube offers a video that offers ten straight hours of varying fireworks sounds to get your pup more accustomed to the noise of fireworks, and – hopefully – when the big day comes around, they’ll be less reactive to the noise. A video featuring ten whole hours of firework sounds may be found here.
Go on a Long Stroll During Daylight Hours
A pup that has had the opportunity to be tired out in advance is a pup that may be calmer once dusk arrives to bring both neighborhood and distant fireworks noise. The day fireworks are typically common, try to take your pup for a longer stroll around the neighborhood. And even if it is earlier in the day, do keep your pups on a leash – a zealous neighbor may begin celebrations early, and could startle your pup and make him run.
To ensure your pup is as comfortable as possible, try to walk your pups closer to dusk, giving them an opportunity to potty as close as possible to the beginning of the fireworks.
Create Some Hiding Places Around Your Home
Fireworks can startle any one of your fuzzy friends. One way to soften the sound is to create a few hiding areas around your home. Perhaps you can open your closet just a little bit, and put a soft blanket on the floor right inside; if you have desks, or a dining room table, drape them in a large sheet to create a makeshift fort for your pets. Be sure that your bathtub is clean, and leave the doors open to give your pets access to the room – tubs are usually hidden within homes, and may be a good location for your frightened pet to get away in a relatively insulated space.
If you have little pets such as bunnies, hamsters, or ferrets, we recommend providing a cover for their hutches/enclosures that still allow them to have a good view, and adding extra blankets for them to burrow in for added security. Don’t forget to close your windows and draw your curtains, if possible, to provide added sound insulation against the outdoors.
Turn on Some Music
Some research shows that classical music can help to calm distressed pups, so pick your favorite piece, set it to a mix, and settle in for a night of calm among the outdoor noise. Just be sure to keep the volume low – while canines have been shown to experience a calming effect from certain classical pieces, the effect is notably less effective if the music is overly loud.
Additionally, research indicates that while canines respond best to lower frequencies to lower their heart rates and agitation, cats tend to respond better to higher frequencies, such as harp music and songs set in higher keys.
Hot Diggity Tip: Some of our pets absolutely adore Tchaikovsky’s symphonies in particular!
With the advent of HDTV, dogs, who were previously unable to see television shows as continuous images (they would simply see flickering light) – are now able to enjoy the activity on their screen just like humans!
Currently, there are increasing reports of both dogs and cats being able to enjoy nature shows that feature the kind of movements that their wild counterparts experience in the great outdoors. If you happen to have Netflix, there are a variety of nature documentaries that may be of interest to both canine and feline spirits – such as the aptly titled Dogs, the Our Planet series, and for our feline friends, we’d like to suggest The Lion in Your Living Room, to both distract your pets from the outdoor noise – and perhaps even give you and your pet a bit of bonding time with something cute you can enjoy together!
Adjust Your Pets’ Feeding Schedule
Pets that are anxious or agitated may not want to eat once outdoor noise begins. On these holidays, we recommend feeding your pets earlier in the day to ensure they get the nutrition they need. However, pets may actually drink more water than usual if they’re feeling anxious; therefore, make sure to provide your pet with extra bowls of fresh cool water around your home in places where your pet is likely to find refuge during the noise.
Pro-tip for kitties: Many cats enjoy drinking water out of coffee mugs, which are easy to strategically place around the house, simple to clean, and even if knocked over by a startled cat, involve less spillage overall.
Invest in a Calming Diffuser System
If your pet struggles with anxiety issues in general, calming diffusers are a simple and drug-free way in which you can keep calm throughout the summer months.
For cats: Feliway diffusers are an excellent calming option but please keep in mind that they take a couple weeks to begin working in the home. You may purchase a Feliway diffuser multi-cat starter kit here.
For dogs: Adaptil pheromone sprays can be used to control and prevent feelings of stress by sending calming messages to your pup’s emotional centers and can also be sprayed on bedding and around your home where your pup may prefer to hide. You may purchase a small travel spray online for only $18.
While we cannot guarantee that each of these strategies will be 100% effective, ensuring that your pets’ tags are current, that they have been well fed and have access to water prior to noise, and that they have lots of hiding locations around the home will at least guarantee a smoother celebratory evening. Remember that, if these strategies do not work the first time, you may always turn to your veterinarian for additional advice and a medication, if absolutely necessary.
Have an excellent holiday season!