Pets commonly suffer with noise aversion, and July Fourth celebrations, with fireworks exploding incessantly before and after the big day, are their biggest nightmare. While our poor pets will never understand this holiday and every year will think they’re experiencing the end of the world, you can help make this holiday more tolerable with some simple tips. Our team at Terra Linda Veterinary Hospital has put together a list of do’s and don’ts to help you keep your noise-averse pet calm and fear-free this July Fourth.

DON’T take your pet to the fireworks show

Bringing your pet to the park to see the fireworks show may sound fun for you, but consider your pet’s perspective, and you’ll understand why they are best kept at home. 

  • The crowds — The most socialized pet can feel overwhelmed at the park, surrounded by the hoards of unfamiliar people. Without careful supervision, they could easily snag a potentially harmful snack from someone’s picnic blanket or barbeque.
  • The noise — If you think the booming fireworks are loud, imagine how your pet feels. Your pet can hear many more frequencies and pick up sounds from further away, so the more distance you keep between your pet and the fireworks, the better. 
  • The risk of getting lost — July Fourth is one of the busiest days for animal shelters, because so many pets go missing when they panic at the fireworks sounds. Your pet is safest at home, but you should still be prepared in case your pet gets loose. Ensure your pet’s collar fits securely and holds your current contact information, and that your pet is microchipped. If your pet is not microchipped, schedule an appointment at our hospital for this quick and simple procedure, which is the only permanent form of identification should your pet lose their collar. Each microchip carries a number that refers to your contact information kept in a database. 

DO consult with your pet’s veterinarian

If your pet is noise-averse, start preparing to help them long before fireworks season. Make an appointment with your veterinarian to discuss the available methods to prevent fireworks anxiety or other noise aversion problems. Methods include:

  • Pheromone sprays — A calming pheromone can help relieve your pet’s stress.
  • Calming supplements — Supplements can calm pets with mild to moderate anxiety. 
  • Short-term sedatives — For an extremely noise-averse pet, your veterinarian may provide a sedative to help them stay calm during the fireworks. 
  • Anxiety vest or ThunderShirt — Adjustable pet shirts apply constant, gentle pressure that helps soothe a pet’s fearfulness and anxiety.

DON’T miss anxiety signs in noise-averse pets

Your pet can’t tell you when they are afraid, so you need to watch for distress signs, which include:

  • Pacing
  • Trembling
  • Panting
  • Drooling 
  • Yawning
  • Inappropriate urination or defecation
  • Holding their tail between the legs
  • Increased water consumption
  • Vocalizing
  • Pawing or climbing on people
  • Nuzzling 
  • Hiding behind furniture or in a closet
  • Unpredictable destructive behaviors (e.g., escaping or jumping through windows or doors)

DO feed and exercise your pet before the fireworks

A long hike or playtime with your pet long before the chaos of the fireworks will help wear them out, and a pet will be less likely to react to fireworks if they are mentally and physically tired. Also, ensure your pet has plenty of opportunities to relieve themselves throughout the day, in case they are too afraid to go outside once the fireworks begin. 

DON’T leave your pet without distractions

Create a quiet, safe space, such as a crate or interior room, for your pet to stay during the fireworks. Turn on a white noise machine, calming music, or the television to muffle the sounds outside. Also, keep your pet distracted and occupied with their favorite toy, or a Kong stuffed with xylitol-free peanut butter, or another delicious treat. 

July Fourth will probably never be a day your pet loves, but with these do’s and don’ts, they may hate all the noisy celebrations a little less. Start preparing for the holiday fireworks now, and schedule an appointment with Terra Linda Veterinary Hospital to discuss options for your noise-averse pet and, if necessary, to have them microchipped.