Paws for Thought
By Lincoln County Humane Society
Summer is finally here and with that comes something enjoyable for humans and terrifying for animals – fireworks. Did you know July 5th is one of the busiest days of the year at most animal shelters? That’s because many fearful pets try to escape the noise and lights from fireworks and end up lost.
There are several things can help both cats and dogs to remain calm during the distress created by fireworks:
1. Home Sweet Home – Keep your pets at home during the fireworks. Make sure the windows and doors are secure so a frantic pet cannot paw through and escape.
2. Provide a safe retreat – curtains closed, ceiling fans creating white noise, the TV on or radio playing. This will reduce the intensity of fireworks. You can also research music that is specifically designed to reduce your pet’s stress level. The music doesn’t need to be loud but calming music that starts before the fireworks may help prevent sound-sensitivity.
3. Collars and more collars – Making sure that your pet has a well-fitting collar with an identification tag is important. By providing a phone number on your pet’s collar, a Good Samaritan can contact you directly instead of bringing your pet to a humane society. We also recommend putting a second collar on your pet with extra phone numbers written on the band itself. You can find cloth collars at The Dollar Store to use as a temporary additional collar. This is also a great option if you are on vacation – you can keep your standard collar with your home info on your pet but also put a second collar with your vacation information (hotel, campsite, etc) on a cheap collar to use temporarily.
4. Calming Scents – You can also try putting a calming scent like lavender into a diffuser at home during the fireworks. There are also pheromone based plug-ins like Canine Calm or Feliway that are designed to calm your pet.
5. Exercise & Exhaustion – If possible, take your dog for a long walk or play with your cat during the day before fireworks begin. Burning off the energy earlier in the day may help your pet stay calm during a stressful environment.
6. Distraction – Provide your dog with a frozen Kong filled with treats while you’re away. Give your kitty some extra catnip or treats when you leave. Give them a new toy or two during the fireworks. It may help if your pet is able to focus on other stimuli.
7. Preparation – If you know your pet struggles with fireworks, preparing other options may be your best solution. “Thundershirts” are designed to reduce anxiety. A short internet search will show a variety of options and sizes. Medication may also be an option. Talk to your veterinarian about what will work best for your pet.
Keep your pet safe and be considerate of your pet’s fears and reactions. Taking a little time to prepare may be the key to keeping your pet safe at home.