Eight tips to reduce fireworks anxiety in pets

With the Fourth of July around the corner, AVMA has released a list of ways to help keep pets calm during loud events

While the Fourth of July and its inevitable fireworks may be more than a week away, many pet owners are already dreading their pet’s heightened anxiety.

What’s more, preholiday fireworks have already been rattling the country, with Chicago seeing a 700 percent jump in noise complaints this year as compared to 2019, and Boston reporting a 2,300 percent increase, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) says.

“Even pets that are not usually sensitive to loud sounds and noise can become extremely stressed due to the sound of fireworks,” says association president, John Howe, DVM. “It’s hard not to feel helpless when you see them shaking and panting and so obviously distressed, but with a little advance planning and preparation, you can ease pets’ anxiety and help get them through this time.”

To that end, AVMA has published eight tips veterinarians can share with clients to help keep pets calm amidst the pyrotechnics.

Get some exercise

Besides being a healthy thing to do, taking dogs out for play and exercise earlier in the day can help burn off extra energy, which limits their anxiety later and helps them rest more soundly.

Make sure their ID tag is up to date

Be certain your pet has up-to-date identification tags and their microchip has your correct contact information. Stressed pets might look for any opportunity to escape the noise, and having updated identification can ensure they will get home safely if they run away.

Give them a safe space

Keep pets indoors. Cats often feel most secure in a covered spot that is elevated off the ground, like a hut in an indoor cat tree, while dogs might need help finding a place to retreat. Try to find a spot in the quietest, most secure room possible to put your dog’s crate or bed. Keep windows and curtains closed to further muffle sounds.

Dress for success

Some pets seem to feel more secure in snug-fitting shirts designed specifically to comfort them during loud events.

Lead by example

Pets might look to humans to see how we are reacting and, thus, could be influenced by our behavior, so remain calm during fireworks. Try not to react too strongly to your pets’ distress.

Block out scary sounds

White noise, music, or television can be used to provide comfortable, familiar sounds that muffle the frightening, surprising noise of fireworks.

Bring out the toys

Introducing new toys and treats might be all the distraction a pet needs during fireworks. Likewise, food puzzles and long-lasting treats can keep them occupied.

Consult with a veterinarian

If the problem persists or seems insurmountable, pet owners should consult with their veterinarian about a plan that may include further behavior modification and/or medical intervention.

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