Seasonal Care

When Fireworks Frighten Fido

When Fireworks Frighten Fido

July 4 is like Halloween for many pets: It’s scary, unpredictable, nerve rattling and all tricks, no treats. And that causes many a freaked-out Fido to bolt.

Did you know that more dogs go missing on July 4 than on any other day of the year? The noise, the sight and even the smell of Independence Day fireworks are disturbing to many dogs of all ages and breeds.

The best things you can do for your pet before the holiday are to get him microchipped by your veterinarian and to register with HomeAgain.

When July’s first fireworks pop, dogs may hide under a bed, begin barking in agitation, break housetraining, go on a chewing frenzy or even injure themselves trying to escape the scary sounds. Cats show their distress by hiding and/or avoiding the litter box.

Summer Storms Are Scary, Too

Fireworks aren’t the only thing that may frighten a dog around this holiday. The arrival of new people, crowded gatherings and strange sounds and smells may also make a dog jumpy.

Add to that list of woes summer storms. Sensitive cats and dogs may begin to show signs of fear as one approaches. Whether your pet is scared of lightning, thunder, howling wind, the smells or even the change in barometric pressure, a storm can set off a series of behaviors that can be alarming to you and dangerous for your pet. Know how to calm your dog or cat if that occurs.

For Frightened Dogs. Try to show your dog that storms don’t have to be scary. Relocate with the dog to a windowless room or a basement where exposure to the storm will be reduced. Holding him or her in your arms and speaking in a gentle voice is calming. Consider the Thundershirt, a garment that applies gentle pressure around the ribcage and has a calming effect. Or consider setting aside particular toys or treats for use only during a storm so that your pet associates the frightening stimulus with a pleasant experience.

For “Scaredy” Cats. Thunder typically isn’t as big a problem for cats as it is for dogs. Their storm behavior typically involves hiding in a place with less noise. Cats are much less likely to become actively phobic, but if you do have cat-storm problems they can be treated in many of the same ways you would deal with a dog. Take your cat’s thunder-traumatized ears to the quietest place in your home or distract the cat using treats or other engaging items such as a favorite toy or laser pointer.

If simple behavioral fixes don’t help, speak with your veterinarian. Prescription anxiety medications can help, and over-the-counter sprays and other solutions for reducing stress are available as well.

If Your Dog or Cat Disappears

Storms, fireworks, even loud noises can trigger the emotional fight or flight mechanism in a canine brain. Some pets will run and some will hide as if their life depended upon it. The Lost Pet Specialists at HomeAgain are on standby throughout the holiday (as well as every day of the year) to help pet parents when the sound and the fury of July 4th cause frantic dogs to escape.

Should your dog react to summer stress by dashing out a door, remain calm and dial 888-HOMEAGAIN to start on the path to recovering your pet. Within moments of receiving notification of a lost pet, HomeAgain issues Rapid Lost Pet Alerts and its national database of PetRescuers will mobilize to begin searching for your pet.