The Fourth of July and its accompanying celebrations can be a traumatic experience for pets. It is also the number one holiday for pets to get lost. Even if you keep your cat or dog indoors during this festive holiday, it can easily turn into a "fright night" for your pet. Many cats or dogs can become fearful, anxious, or stressed with loud noises such as thunderstorms, fireworks, loud music and large groups of people celebrating. A little preparation can go a long way toward making sure that they are safe and happy when the festivities begin, and we can help!
1. Create a safe haven. Use an interior room in the house, preferably without windows and doors leading outside. This will allow you to limit outside noise and create a pet-friendly room. Place their favorite beds, crates, toys, treats, food and water bowls in the room. Using pheromones such as Feliway for cats and Adaptil or DAP for dogs can create a sense of well being. Provide a musical distraction by using sound therapy. Playing the radio or a soothing playlist, keeping the TV on or using a white noise machine can help muffle the sounds of outside stressors. Through a Dog's Ear and Through a Cat's Ear has an assortment of calming music for a variety of anxieties such as fireworks, thunderstorms, car rides, etc. If your cat or dog is stressed by new people or kids, limit your guests' access to your pet's "safe haven."
2. Before the activities begin be sure to spend time with your pet. Do something they like. Go for a hike, take a walk, spend time playing inside with toys or even hanging out and cuddling. Don't forget about them in the hustle and bustle of holiday preparations and celebrations.
3. Be sure they are wearing collars, ID tags and are microchipped. Despite our best efforts, sometimes pets still manage to get free and run away, especially when they're scared. Make sure they have proper and up-to-date identification with your contact information so you can be quickly reunited. Be sure to have up-to-date photos of your pet that you can use for shelters and signs in case your pet does get lost. Place signs on all the doors leading outside: "Please do not let the cat/dog out!"
4. For many people, part of the fun of celebrating the 4th is having a cookout. Make sure your pets don't have access to toxic foods like onions, grapes, or chocolate. Dogs can sneak into the garbage, grill grease, and rib or chicken bones when nobody's watching. Counter-surfing dogs and cats can access all kinds of foods and even alcoholic beverages. If they can't be supervised, it's best to keep your pets in their safe room during holiday barbecues.
5. Sometimes, no matter what you do, these calming measures are simply not enough to help relieve fear, stress, and anxiety in your furry companions. Talk to your veterinarian about supplements or medications that can help take the "fright" out of the night! Talk to your veterinarian in advance as sometimes these medications need to be compounded in order to get your pet, especially cats, to easily take them.