Fireworks are a tricky thing. For some, they are wonderful. For others, they are a nightmare. While society is working on recognizing that fireworks aren’t universally loved or welcomed, we still have a ways to go when thinking about those who are triggered by loud noises and booms, and those that don’t have a voice to speak and stand up for themselves.
Animals are in the category of those without a voice that are terrified of fireworks. From wildlife, strays and even house pets, every year around this time can be horrible. If you have a pet you love their safety and comfort should be top of mind as you prepare for the Fourth of July holiday weekend.
I reached out to L.A. – based rescue organization Wags and Walks, (of which I am a former member and where I found and adopted my pooch), along with Lindsay Butzer, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) and leading pet supplement brand Zesty Paws, Spokesperson, for their advice on how to keep your dog safe and calm during fireworks.
“With all the excitement that goes into preparing for and celebrating the 4th of July, it’s easy for pet parents, especially ones that haven’t seen how their pets react to fireworks, to forget that the 4th of July can be a challenging time for animals,” explains Butzer. Here are her tips to keep you and your pet prepared for the blasts:
- To avoid the risk of injury, keep your pets well-clear of the firework explosions. Loud firework sounds may frighten, startle, and disorient them, potentially causing them to run away. It’s best to make sure main doors are closed, and even better that they are in a safe, enclosed space.
- Fireworks and the left-over debris that, like all things that pets (especially dogs) encounter for the first time, they might be tempted to eat. So, clear all left-over debris before allowing pets around it.
- 4th of July staples like corn on the cob, desserts, barbecue with bones, and anything containing alcohol are other important items to keep their paws (and mouths) off.
- Finally, climate– In many places, it will be nearly the hottest time of year in July, and with celebrations often taking place outside, it’s important to make sure that our pets don’t overheat.
Wags and Walks, a 501(c)(3) that has rescued over 7,000 dogs in the last 10 years, provided some extra tips:
Tag & Microchip Your Pet
The biggest fear during fireworks and loud celebrations is the possibility of losing your four-legged bestie. Make sure your pet is wearing a properly fitted, sturdy collar with an up to date ID tag and ensure that their microchip info is also current.
- ID Tags – If your furry companion doesn’t have an ID tag, head to your nearest pet retailer. There are even GPS tracking tags that help you track where pup is if they manage to get out.
- Microchips – If you aren’t sure about the status of your pet’s microchip or they aren’t yet chipped, schedule an appointment with your vet before the 4th. Once their chip has been placed and/or checked, you can view its status online here.
They also advise keeping your pets indoors: “This is crucial! Dogs’ hearing is up to 4 times more sensitive than ours, so loud noises often lead them to extreme panic, leaping fences, and possibly running away. Make sure doors are shut and windows are closed during fireworks and celebrations. Keeping your pup secured inside will ensure their safety and could even save their life.”
“As much as we want our pets to celebrate along with us on this jolly occasion, for some animals, at least ones that are known to startle easily or consume foreign objects,” agrees Butzer. The following tips from the DVM will go a long way to helping your pet stay composed:
- Put pets somewhere safe and secure during times that they can’t be adequately monitored. Regardless of where they are, they will most likely still be at risk of being frightened or otherwise disturbed by the loud sound of fireworks.
- If crated, cover with a blanket to dim down all the lights and make sure they have a few comfort objects (blankets, toys, chewers, etc.) for the big commotion.
- For best results, start giving your pet supplements to help them relax like Zesty Paws Calming Bites 3-4 days before the 4th so the ingredients have a chance to build in their system and be most effective during the celebration. The Zesty Paws Calming Bites can help keep pets stay composed and make it easier for them to deal with the noise and excitement. They are powered by a non-GMO form of L-Theanine called Suntheanine®, which stimulates alpha waves in the brain to help animals feel more at ease during times of stress. They also contain calming staples such as organic chamomile, valerian root, thiamine, and L-tryptophan.
According to Wags and Walks, pet parents should also consider looking into anxiety reducing vests and Medterra’s pet formulated CBD to help keep their dog calm. Use code “wagsnwalks” for 15% off your Medterra purchase and for a portion to go back to Wags and Walks’ rescue! In addition, they suggest asking your vet about the use of stress relieving medications or going to a trusted trainer for guidance.
For more advice on how to keep your dog safe and calm during fireworks, check out Wags and Walks’ comprehensive blog here. And watch their video below: