Firework Fear: Tips On Independence Day Safety From Kingsbrook Animal Hospital

It’s almost that time of year again–the days are long and warm, neighbors are out grilling, and

KAH veterinarian Dr Kemper poses with a patrioic patient!

everyone is gearing up for the celebration of our nation’s independence. Cookouts and picnics inevitably lead up to a big, colorful fireworks display on July 4th… which is so much fun for humans, but can be terrifying for our dogs and cats.

The loud bangs accompanying fireworks sound 4-6 times louder to our canine friends, and up to 8 times louder to cats.  Couple this with changes in routine, new people, and lots of new food/smells… it’s no wonder that the highest percentage of pets go missing around the

KAH CSR Kelly has prepped her pup Sugar for the upcoming fireworks!

Fourth of July.

The very best way to help fur babies with fireworks is counter-conditioning.  This is a series of exercises done at home that gradually acclimate pets to the loud sounds made by fireworks. While this does take some time and some patience, it is definitely the safest way to get dogs or cats through loud noises.  Some in-depth information about counter-conditioning for fireworks (or thunderstorms!) can be found by clicking here.

Fortunately, there are lots of short-term things we can do to help our furry friends get through this holiday in one piece! Below are some recommendaions from Kingsbrook Animal Hospital‘s top-noch veterinarians:

  1.  Leave pets at home, and if possible remain at home with them. This is also a great
    KAH patient Jada is modeling a thundershirt and listening to an iCalmdog. Both of these fear-free methods are used often here at KAH with our patients who spend the day with us.

    opportunity to check the fit of each pet’s collar, verify contact information on collar tags, and make sure all pets are microchipped jus in case the unthinkable happens.

  2. Consider crating pets or confining them to a small, quiet area with a minimum of traffic. Terrified pets will try to bolt, so keeping them away from doors to the outside is key to preventing escapes.
  3.  Provide background noise, such as the television or radio, to help drown out the sounds. For a fear-free approved and portable option, check out the iCalmDog (or iCalmCat).
  4.  Also consider adding pheremone support for anxiety-prone pets. A great option for cats is the Feliway diffuser, and for dogs try Adaptil–either the collar or the diffuser are good choices.
  5. Thundershirts can help to calm an anxious dog or cat. These snug-fitting, adjustable jackets provide a lot of comfort and are infinitely reusable.
  6. Talk to a Kingsbrook Animal Hospital veterinarian about options for medications. There are several new choices that are great for situational anxiety!

For more information, please see the AVMA’s resource on July 4th Safety and the article on Fireworks Fear from the Fear Free organization.