Fireworks….fun for us…torture for dogs and cats :(
Veterinarian Reviewed on May 28, 2011 by Dr. Janice Huntingford, DVM
Posted in Behavior Management
Long Holiday weekends are a time of relaxation, entertainment, travel and celebration with family and friends. Most of our national holidays include fireworks, either put on in people’s backyards, or as part of civic celebrations. While they are awe inspiring and exhilarating for us, for a lot of pets, they are a nightmare.
There are three aspects of fireworks that can cause a pet distress. The loud thundering noise and vibration, the flashing lights and the smell of sulfur. It is estimated that 80% of pets suffer anxiety from mild to extreme, because of fireworks, so here is what you can do for your furry family member to help lessen the stress.
Know when fireworks will be happening and how they’ll impact your home.
Make sure your pets are wearing current ID tags in case they run off.
Keep some lights on in the house to make your pet feel more secure.
Dampen the noise by closing the curtains.
Play some music or put the TV on but not so loud that is causes further stress. The sound of rainwater can be soothing, play a CD with these types of “natural” sounds.
Select a suitable room where you can contain the pets for the duration of the fireworks. Make it cozy. Put down familiar, clean bedding somewhere pleasant such as under a table, on or behind a chair, etc. Provide a kennel covered with a heavy blanket but leave the door open in case they want to move. Add some familiar toys, scratch pads, balls, etc., to keep your pets amused and distracted.
Try Lesstress for Dog Anxiety and Lesstress for Cat Anxiety given in the hours before the event, again during and a few drops in the water bowl. Another product called Rescue Remedy (Bach Flower Essence) which can be found in most health stores, can be given in the same manner. Lavender is also a calming herb. Spray some essential oil of Lavender in the room or on some of the bedding.
Remove any sharp items that could injur them in the event they starting jumping or running around.
Make sure they have access to fresh water and food in case they get hungry. It may help to distract and/or comfort them
Add a litter box for cats.
Confine your pet 30 minutes before the fireworks start and stay with them if you can, talk to them, comfort them if you think it will help.
Be sure that your dog has been walked well before the fireworks begin so they can do their business.
If your pet is a horse or other farm animal, make sure it has clean bedding and is inside the stable or barn.
Prepare yourself. Sometimes our own worry can stress the pet out even more. Staying calm can be a great reassurance to them that everything is OK.
After the fireworks: Reassure your pet and slowly remove the protective blankets. Let them have free run of the house and see how they behave before considering letting them outside. Check for signs of stress like panting, increased respiration, shaking and trembling, dilated pupils, soiling in the house or refusal to eat. If they are showing these symptoms and they do not resolve within 30 minutes, call your veterinarian or local emergency clinic for advice.
If you do feel your dog needs to go out, make sure he is on leash and in a harness to ensure he won’t accidentally slip out of a collar. We would advise not to let frightened cats outside (if they are outdoor cats) until the morning, when the threat is long gone.
Happy long weekend everyone…hope you and your beloved pets stay safe !
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Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for over 30 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan