Pet Calming Techniques for the 4th of July
June 29, 2012 at 11:07:09 am | Posted by Deva C. in Cat Behavior, Dog Behavior, Pet Care, Pet Identification, Pet MicrochippingTweet
Independence Day is here again, bringing food, fun, and – of course – fireworks. This holiday tradition can terrify even the most patriotic pets, and many take the opportunity to celebrate their own independence… by running away! Area animal shelters see a drastic rise in pets picked up on that particular holiday, don’t let your dog or cat be one of them with these pet care tips!
This year, make your pets’ pad “the home of the brave” by readying them before the 4th.
The Pursuit of…Hiding Places?
Pets who scamper off during the holidays aren’t trying to leave you – they’re just looking for somewhere safe to wait out the celebration. The problem is that disoriented pets can wind up in unfamiliar places, and often don’t remember how to get back home once the noise quiets down. The solution? Keep your pets indoors during the firework show. Even the bravest outdoor pets can lose their cool when fire fills the sky (have you ever seen the movie Independence Day? Yeah, that’s what your pet thinks of on 7/4). Check that windows and screens are securely closed, and finish any walks before dinner so your pets aren’t outside when the fireworks start.
If your pets are hiders by nature, make sure they have a safe place to retreat to when things get overwhelming. Invest in a covered pet house, or drape your pet’s carrier or crate in extra blankets and pillows for an insulated “nest.” If possible, set up a quiet spot in a closet or bathroom with food and water, and let your pet get cozy there before the fireworks start. It’s best if your pet is already comfortable with this hiding place before the 4th, so set it up a few days early and let her check it out in advance.
Can’t bring your pet indoors? The Thundershirt is a nifty invention that helps calm jittery animals by snuggling them when you can’t. This pet jacket comes in both cat and dog sizes and can make a world of difference during fireworks, thunder, travel, and other scary times.
It’s like swaddling your pet, but without the need to wrap him in a blankie…your pet will be sporty and stylish, instead of looking like a fuzzy burrito; and you’ll be spared the scratches if your cat doesn’t enjoy being swaddled the way Bean does.
Declarations of “I’m a Pet!”
To show the world that your pets are loved, make sure they always wear visible tags as well as permanent ID. Visit your local pet supply store and replace any old or outdated identification in their attire. Be sure all cats and dogs sport ID tags with your family’s phone numbers and that their collars fit snugly, but not too tight (leave about two finger widths of wiggle room for dogs, one finger for cats). As Annie pointed out in last year’s 4th of July blog, pets can squeeze themselves into some pretty tiny places when they’re afraid! A nook that doesn’t quite fit your pet might be the perfect size to pry off his collar and tags. If your fur children ever end up lost (as one in three pets will), having multiple forms of ID is the best way to get them home.
While external tags are the first line of defense for lost pets, permanent ID is a crucial failsafe. Microchips are a great form of permanent ID, and one chip is usually good for life – all you need to do is keep the registration current! Make sure you periodically update your pet’s microchip registration with your current phone numbers, email, and mailing address. If your microchip registration is outdated, it’s important to correct your info right away. Without your current contact info on file, the microchip will not be able to help your pet. Some registries require you to mail in forms to update your pet’s info, so check now. Don’t wait for the pet to get lost – then it may be too late!
If you aren’t sure where your pet is registered, visit AAHA’s Universal Pet Microchip Lookup Tool to search common U.S. registries. Your vet should be able to scan your pet using a universal scanner and provide the unique microchip number if needed. You can also register any brand of microchip in the Found Animals Microchip Registry. Our registry is a free, nonprofit service, and is 100% online – you don’t even need a stamp! For more information about microchips, please visit our microchip FAQs, or email the microchip registry.
Land of the Free…from Anxiety
The preparations above will provide your pets a much better Independence Day experience, but for some pets, no nest in the world will make July 4th a cause for celebration. Many puppies and kittens-at-heart are still plagued by nervousness or have especially strong reactions to noise. For these animals, over-the-counter and prescription anxiety treatments can boost their confidence. Here are a few we recommend:
- Comfort Zone imitates naturally occurring pheromones that put dogs and cats at ease. Available in a diffuser or household spray, this item is a must-have for fearful pets. You can use the spray on carpets or furniture to discourage marking, inappropriate “elimination” and other undesirable behaviors; or just stick a diffuser near the pet’s bed for ambient anxiety relief. This product is ideal for fear-proofing your pet-friendly home.
- Composure is an edible treatment, and can be purchased in chew treat or liquid form for both dogs and cats. It works fairly quickly – typically taking effect within 20 to 30 minutes – and gives the benefit of oral anxiety relief without unnecessary drowsiness or strange behavior (believe me, punch-drunk puppy and cuckoo kitty are the last guests you want at your holiday BBQ).
- Pets still not comforted or composed? When over-the-counter treatments fail, your vet may have stronger solutions to recommend. Reconcile is a prescription medication used to treat separation anxiety and compulsive behaviors in dogs. Consult your vet to see if your pet needs this or other specialized medications. As always, remember to tell your vet about any important changes in your pet’s life, such as pregnancy, new diet, or other medications.
With these tips and tricks in tow, your pet should be ready for a smooth and easy Independence Day. Celebrate the day knowing your pets are safe at home!
“May your heart beat true for the red, white, and ‘mew,’ and forever may wagging tails wave.”