by: Carol Bryant
kapow, and sizzle: Ah, these are the sounds of the season as we prepare for
thunderstorms and fireworks in celebration of the warmer months. Unfortunately,
for many pets, storms and celebratory explosions lighting up the skies means
anxiety, fear, and often times, running away.
In my neighborhood, I vividly recall two moments that will forever stay with me: The first happened when kids were huddled together across the street from my home. I took my pooch outside for a potty break at the exact moment they were tossing firecrackers into the street. What they thought was funny turned into anything but for my now-hates-fireworks Cocker Spaniel.
The second incident involved a lost little Shih Tzu, who in a terrified fashion, bolted down my street. I was in the right place, right time, called to him and he ran right into my foyers. Moments behind him was his frantic dog mom: Her dog got freaked out and jerked the leash while she was walking him. The fireworks scared him and off he ran. Here's a top eight list of ways you can keep your pet safe as we approach July, which is laden with fireworks and thundery skies:
Humane Society of the United States reports that animal shelters across the
United States anticipate what they dub “July 4th” dogs, those who
run away during loud firework festivities and are brought to shelters by animal
control or good Samaritans. Think of all the cats, hamsters, rabbits, ferrets, birds, and all of our critters when suddenly the skies become Armageddon-like.
all have a quiet spot to take refuge and the same goes for our non-human family members. Ensure a
familiar area is available, such as his kennel or favorite room or place on the
couch. In the past, I've sought refuge with my family in a cool, air-conditioned room, my dog's favorite bone to munch on, and a good rental movie in the DVD player.
2. Be calm and try not to react.
Pets read our emotions and are very intuitive to what we, as their pack members, are
feeling. Try to stay as calm and unaffected to loud sounds as possible. Though a dog, for example, wags when his pack is happy, he reads nonverbal cues when fear is present.
3. Don't become a statistic.
Though National Dog Bite Prevention Week happens in May, dog bites are commonplace year round. Know how to read a dog's body language. Scared dogs can and will bite.
is an array of products available to help dogs cope and relax when Mother
Nature or noisy neighbors have other plans. Check with a veterinarian first,
then check into calming agents or anxiety rescue treatments that can easily be
added to water or lightly misted on/around the pet. I've had pretty good success with Rescue Remedy for Dexter (and it works pretty good for me, too, now and then)
5. Consider a gentle wrap.
gentle acupressure maintained on the dog for stress reduction, a product such
as the Thundershirt eliminates the need for medication in a large percentage of
cases. Be certain to practice with the shirt and have your dog prepared well in
advance of thunder and fireworks. The Thundershirt is now available for cats as well. There are many reviews and recommendations from other pet parents in the BlogPaws Community on these and other concerns.
certain percentage of dogs are easily comforted with everyday household sounds
such as a television, stereo or appliance sounds like ice makers and vacuums in
the background. Sometimes a distraction during the height of commotion is all
that is needed. Again, this works for us, and perhaps it will for you, too. I know of some folks who have told me they blast a radio and leave it on all evening long. Just proceed with caution. Are your neighbors happy about this? And is your pet upset to the sudden burst of noise? Their hearing is, after all, more sensitive than ours.
classic conditioning, play thunder or firework sounds ever so softly and
lightly so as not to induce a fear reaction. Dr. Patricia McConnell writes more
about this technique, which can be found by visiting bit.ly/bFS2ha.
8. Don't leave pets alone.
leave a noise-phobic pet alone where they risk harm to self, engaging in
destructive behavior, or incessant barking. Pets should generally not be taken
along to watch the fireworks. These types of general public displays are
usually not the place for a dog, cat, or any animal. A more viable option would be to enlist the services of a trusted pet sitter who is equipped to deal with a panicked pooch or a frightened ferret.
can’t predict the weather or when a bottle rocket might sail through the air,
but keeping pets safe and sound with these tips and current identification tags
will make for a gentler, more enjoyable season for all.
What's your best tip for keeping pets safe this time of year? We're all ears and not covering them at the moment. No bombs bursting in air just yet….