The 4th of July, with its festive parades, barbecues, and spectacular fireworks displays, is a time of celebration for many Americans. However, for pet parents, this holiday can bring significant anxiety as loud noises and sudden bursts of light can distress pets. Here are some of the key tips and tricks to ensure that your pets stay safe and calm during the festivities. If you have specific questions regarding your fur babies and want to consult with one of our veterinarians, call us at 808-453-5000 today!

1. Know their signs of anxiety

Sometimes it’s very obvious that your fur baby is terrified of fireworks, but it is not always easy to recognize the subtle signs of anxiety in dogs and cats. Commonly dogs exhibit behaviors such as excessive barking, pacing and panting, cowering or hiding, and urinary accidents. Cats anxiety can be described as excessive meowing, excessive scratching, hiding, overgrooming, and urinary accidents. If your pets ever exhibit these signs during fireworks, keep reading!

2. Ensure they have access to a safe space

Designate a quiet, secure area in your home where your pet can retreat from the noise. This could be a room in the interior of the house, away from windows, where you can set up their bed, favorite toys, and some comforting items. Consider playing soft music or using a white noise machine to help drown out the fireworks.

3. Make them exhausted leading up to the fireworks

Before the festivities begin, make sure to give your pets plenty of exercise. A long walk or a vigorous play session can help tire them out, making them more likely to rest and less likely to become anxious. For cats, interactive toys or a play session with a laser pointer can be very effective.

4. Just in case…

Ensure your pet is wearing a collar with an ID tag that includes your contact information. Microchipping your pet is also highly recommended, as it provides a permanent form of identification. In case your pet does get lost, a microchip can significantly increase the chances of a safe return.

5. Don’t be afraid to reach for supplements/prescription for anxiety

Consider using calming aids such as pheromone diffusers, calming supplements, calming collars, or anxiety wraps like the ThunderShirt, which can help reduce stress in pets. Sometimes pets do need a prescription medication to make it through the night without having a panic attack. Consult your veterinarian for suggestions or recommendations specific to your fur babies.

6. Don’t forget the importance of training.

In the weeks leading up to the 4th of July, consider desensitization training. Play recordings of fireworks at a low volume and gradually increase it over time, rewarding your pet for staying calm. This can help reduce their sensitivity to loud noises. Combining desensitization training with calming aids +/- prescription can achieve maximum effect.

7. Stay Calm and Reassuring

Pets often take cues from their owners. Stay calm and avoid displaying anxiety or stress during fireworks. Comfort your pet without reinforcing their fear; speak in a soothing tone and engage in normal activities to show that there is no reason to be afraid.

8. Plan Ahead (Especially for meds!)

If you know your pet struggles significantly with fireworks, consider planning a trip to a quieter location away from the celebrations. If your pet routinely gets anti-anxiety medication for the fireworks, reach out to your veterinarian in advance as clinics often get inundated with prescription calls leading up to the holiday and your prescription may not be filled in time.

By taking these proactive steps, pet parents can help their furry friends feel more secure and less anxious during the 4th of July festivities. If this is your pet’s first 4th of July, please pay close attention to their behavior to prepare for the dreaded New Years Eve fireworks! With preparation and care, you can ensure that the holiday is enjoyable and safe for both you and your pets.