“Even pets that are not usually sensitive to loud sounds and noise can become extremely stressed due to the sound of fireworks,” says John Howe, DVM, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association. “It’s hard not to feel helpless when you see them shaking and panting and so obviously distressed, but with a little advance planning and preparation, you can ease pets’ anxiety and help get them through this time.”
To that end, AVMA has published eight tips veterinarians can share with clients to help keep pets calm amidst the pyrotechnics.
Get some exercise
Besides being a healthy thing to do, taking dogs out for play and exercise earlier in the day can help burn off extra energy, which limits their anxiety later and helps them rest more soundly.
Make sure their ID tag is up to date
Be certain your pet has up-to-date identification tags and their microchip has your correct contact information. Stressed pets might look for any opportunity to escape the noise, and having updated identification can ensure they will get home safely if they run away.
Give them a safe space
Keep pets indoors. Cats often feel most secure in a covered spot that is elevated off the ground, like a hut in an indoor cat tree, while dogs might need help finding a place to retreat. Try to find a spot in the quietest, most secure room possible to put your dog’s crate or bed. Keep windows and curtains closed to further muffle sounds.
Dress for success
Some pets seem to feel more secure in snug-fitting shirts designed specifically to comfort them during loud events.
Lead by example
Pets might look to humans to see how we are reacting and, thus, could be influenced by our behaviour, so remain calm during fireworks. Try not to react too strongly to your pets’ distress.
Block out scary sounds
White noise, music, or television can be used to provide comfortable, familiar sounds that muffle the frightening, surprising noise of fireworks.
Bring out the toys
Introducing new toys and treats might be all the distraction a pet needs during fireworks. Likewise, food puzzles and long-lasting treats can keep them occupied.
Consult with a veterinarian
If the problem persists or seems insurmountable, pet owners should consult with their veterinarian about a plan that may include further behaviour modification and/or medical intervention.