Alleviate Your Pet’s Stress of Fireworks Flash-Boom-Bang This Fourth of July
By Rebecca Stroud // June 29, 2016
The Animal Advocate
Although I have no clue when or why thunderous fireworks became an integral part of celebrating Independence Day, you probably don’t want to know where I’d like to stick those Roman candles. And I imagine your pets feel the same way.
As animals possess extraordinary senses, just envision what the continuous flash-boom-bang of explosive firecrackers does to your dogs, cats, horses and other creatures.
In most cases, I can guarantee you that the hellacious noise elicits a “fight or flight” response. Neither of which is pretty if it means your dog busts out a window, your cat shreds the drapes, or your horse bolts through the barn, all of them in the throes of panic.
So to pre-empt some of these instinctual reactions, there are things you can do to alleviate the very real stress – and pain – this holiday can create.
First and foremost, please keep your pets indoors. And that includes horses and other farm animals; they should be securely sheltered. In addition, your dogs and cats should be wearing their ID tags even if they’ll be hiding under the bed or cowering in the kitchen as – again – their first instinct is to flee.
Secondly, if you’re planning on attending the local light show, don’t even think about taking your dogs or cats with you. Leave them at home; turn the TV on or play soft music to mitigate any outside sounds; or secure them in a place like a comfy, covered crate or closed-off bathroom.
Again, I cannot emphasize enough how you must ensure they are safely ensconced inside to prevent escape.
If you’re like me – someone who will definitely not be out reveling – and will be home with your pets, simply talk reassuringly to them if they become anxious or agitated.
For as much as you’d like to cuddle or hold them, this can actually reinforce their fear as they are being inadvertently rewarded for their behavior. Been there, done that, and this ‘training by accident’ is very hard to undo.
July 4th is also well-known for producing a plethora of lost animals and not only during evening hours. I know of an elderly dog that had actually climbed the chain-link fence surrounding his yard and ran as fast as his old legs could until a good Samaritan stopped him in his tracks, keeping him until the owner was located. This all happened around noon.
Yet – in a sad testament to their terror – some may never be reunited with their families as they’ve run many miles in their attempt to get away and, confused and frightened, they keep running.
Last but not least: Picnics and backyard barbeques are a huge part of Independence Day celebrations, especially when the holiday occurs on a weekend.
These venues usually mean spare ribs, burgers and onions, hot dogs and mustard, spicy baked beans and potato salad, beer…absolutely none of which should find its way down an animal’s throat.
Pork rib bones are easily splintered and can tear stomachs to ribbons. Onions are extremely toxic to dogs and cats. And a mustard-mayo-Miller Lite combo can cause diarrhea. In other words, don’t you – or the kids – share with your pets in order for them to “feel the love” because, at the very least, they’ll most likely vomit.
Bottom line: With a few precautions and a lot of common sense, you can save yourself a ton of grief by being proactive. Yes, some of the fireworks are quite pretty. Yes, you want to have some fun. All well and good. But, trust me, your beloved pets won’t care one whit if they never see a sparkler again.
Comments or questions? Please send to RebeccaStroud@aol.com with “The Animal Advocate” in the subject line.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rebecca Stroud is a former newspaper reporter and columnist. She is now an independent author who has published numerous books and stories, including The Killing Sands, Murder 9.0, Dragon’s Moon, Devil’s Moon, Do Unto Others, The Animal Advocate, A Three-Dog Night, Zellwood: A Dog Story and Jinxed.
In addition to writing, Stroud is an editor and avid animal lover. She lives in Cocoa with her husband and their adored catahoula-boxer mix.
To contact Stroud, e-mail RebeccaStroud@aol.com