Eighty percent of pet owners have owned a pet that is afraid of fireworks. It is one of the most common things that scare nearly all types of animals, whether they be dogs, cats, rodents, or farm animals. Taking the right precautions to help your pet feel comfortable and safe during the fireworks can reduce its anxiety and make it more comfortable around loud noises, bright lights, and strange smells.
Preparing Ahead of Time
1Know when and where fireworks will be happening. The loud noise of fireworks, the flashing lights, and the smell of sulfur are what scare pets most. Contact your local municipality to find out when your area is likely to have fireworks.
- Check that your pets’ ID tags and microchips are up to date. Mark the calendar when renewal payments are due and be sure to make payments on time. If your pet runs away during firework events, it’s much easier to be identified as its owner through a microchip.
- Mark the dates on a calendar so that you can keep track of when to ensure your pets are cared for.
2Expose your pet to loud noises and firework sounds ahead of time.Desensitization of loud noises can help to prevent your pet from getting scared during the fireworks. Play loud firework noises or loud music about a week before the fireworks are scheduled to get it used to these harsh noises.
- Playing loud noises after the fireworks can help to desensitize it further, by showing it that what it just experienced is not scary.
3Turn the lights on and try to insulate the house as best you can. Keeping the lights on will calm your pet and make it feel more secure. Close the curtains in the room and, if your animal is in a cage, cover up the cage with a thick blanket, which will hide it from flashing lights and dampen loud noises. In a stable, keep the lights on and keep the doors locked, although sedatives are the best method to calm your outdoor farm animals.
- Use familiar sounds to drown out the noise of the fireworks. Classical music, the sound of rain, or the sound of the TV, are some common noises that can soothe your pet.
4Find a central room away from windows to contain your pets. A room that has no windows located in the middle of your home is ideal, as it naturally dampens outside noises. It should be a room you can close off to stop your pet from running about the house and creating a mess. Make sure your outdoor animals are locked in their pen and consider moving them to a more central pen in your barn or stable to keep them away from doors and windows.
- If you have more than one pet, be sure they don’t mind being confined in the same room, or select several rooms for different pets. For example, dogs and cats will usually appreciate being separated. If you must separate animals, make a second room as insulated as you can and keep the most anxious animal in the central room, and stay with and comfort the animal in the second room.
5Consider veterinary sedation for large animals or easily scared animals. Consult your vet a few weeks ahead of time to see if your dog may need a sedative during the fireworks, as some dogs are particularly noise-sensitive or anxiety-prone. Horses and farm animals that are kept outside particularly may need this to make it through without getting scared.
Comforting During Fireworks
1Make the rooms your pets will be confined in feel familiar. Put down familiar, clean bedding and give them their favorite chew toys, scratch pads, balls, or other toys to keep your pets distracted.
- Ensure that the room temperature is comfortable: make it warm in cold weather, or cool in hot weather.
2Provide food and water for your pet. Be sure to leave sufficient water and food for your pet in the confinement space. If your pet has access to water and its regular food, it will be calmer.
- Consider buying a special treat, such as wet food or small sausages, to make it feel more comfortable during the fireworks.
3Move your pet to the prepared room. If you’re worried about not being able to find your pet, consider looking for it a few hours before the fireworks are set to start. Mealtime is a good time to round up your pets. If your dog needs a walk, be sure to walk it before confining it in the room.
- Even if your pet is caged, you should still keep it in the secure and comfortable room you’ve selected.
- If your pet is a horse or other farm animal, make sure it has clean bedding and is safely inside the stable or barn.
4Prepare yourself mentally and try to relax. It’s possible to transfer some of your anxiety and worry to your pet, so it’s important to remain calm so you don’t inadvertently stress your pet out. If you’ve prepared properly in advance, there is no need to feel worried as you have done all you can to make the experience as easy as possible for it.
- The startled and frantic reactions of your pet can often be the source of your own anxiety. Be ready to understand its reactions and comfort it, and you will feel less worried as well.
5Stay with your pet, or at least check on it regularly. Comfort it and talk to it. Be friendly and stay happy and upbeat, as pets can read emotions better than you think. If it’s not possible to stay with it—you may be at the fireworks display yourself—just make sure you do everything you can for its comfort while you are gone.
- Act slowly and cautiously when visiting your pet, as you may scare it if you open the door suddenly.
- Allow your pet to hide somewhere in the room. It’s common for pets to cope with these experiences by using a “bolthole,” and dragging it out of its safe space can make him much more anxious.
6Consider using lavender plants or spray for a calming scent. Gently bruise the flowers of fresh lavender, and make sure that it’s out of reach of your pet, especially if you have a cat. You should use a pheromone spray designed for cats and small rodents, as these animals can be harmed by the strong fumes.
Checking In Afterwards
1Reassure your pet and make the home normal again. Be sure that the fireworks are over before you remove sound and light dampening blankets and curtains. Let your pet have a free run of the house to see how it behaves before letting it go back outside. Put your animal’s cage back in its normal place and stay with them for a few hours to see how they are coping.
- Sometimes it is best to wait until the following morning to let your pet back outdoors.
2Do a yard sweep before letting your pets back outside. Collect any sparklers, firecrackers, and other party items and broken objects. Even if you did not host a party at your house, it is still a good idea to check for litter that may have entered your yard from nearby celebrations.
3Check for signs of stress in your pet. Some pets will return to normal as soon as the loud noises and flashing lights stop, but some may need special attention to feel safe again. Watch for irregular behaviour from your pet, which could be a sign that it’s having a hard time re-adjusting.
- In cats, signs of stress include running away, soiling the house, hiding and refusing to eat.
- In dogs, signs of stress include anxious barking, running away, soiling the house, cowering, clinging to their owner, whimpering, trembling, pacing, and refusing to eat.
- In small rodents, signs of stress include hiding, staying silent, excessive tooth grinding and acting more aggressively than usual.
- In horses and stable animals, signs of stress include soiling themselves, refusing to eat, sweating, and tooth grinding.
- If you think your pet is stressed, keep it indoors overnight. Be sure to walk a dog a while after the fireworks to allow it to re-adjust, but don’t let it off its harness.
4Make your pet feel at home again and give it lots of attention. After taking down blankets, moving its cage back, and making the home feel as it did before the fireworks, you can make your pet feel much more comfortable and relaxed even if it was scared during the fireworks.
- If it seems stressed, be sure to give it lots of attention and reassure it through gentle grooming and talking in a soft voice.