It is fireworks season again! This is a stressful time of year for even our most confident pets. Random, unpredictable popping and sizzling occur without warning, deafening our animals’ ears and confusing their senses. The smell of burning alone can send our animals into flee mode. So what do we do?
The first thing we do is to explain to our animals what is going to happen on the days leading up to Fourth of July and throughout the weekend. I want you to sit in a quiet place with your animals. Breathe. I am going to give you something to say to your animals. While you talk to your animals, picture everything you say as if there are clips of a movie playing in your mind. Feel every emotion and sense in your body as if it is happening to yourself at this very moment. Say to them, “I want to explain to you what will be happening in the next few days (pictures a few sunsets and sunrises). Every year on this weekend, adults and children play with toys (picture them with one of their toys and then a human with a firework).
“These human toys make a lot of loud noises (hear sizzling and popping in your head). They also burn (remember the smell in you mind), but are safe (picture the burning only being around a firework). These toys are so wonderful for people because they fly high up in the sky and create beautiful colorful patterns in the sky or off of the toy. (Picture the fireworks and people in awe). This happens every year. People all over play with their own fireworks and then they go to a certain place on one night and watch a big display of fireworks. (Picture people playing joyfully at their home with fireworks and then traveling to where there are crowds and watching a big display).
“I know that it is scary (picture your animal scared), but you are safe and you must stay home where you are truly protected. (Picture them confident, aware, and staying home on Fourth of July). There will be no more fireworks in a few days. (Picture it quiet again after the sun rises and sets a few times). This is what I will do for you on the day where the noise is the worst (explain where they will be and how you will help them.) I love you and want you to feel safe.”
This is what you must do: All outside animals should be contained in a safe place. Many animals that would never run away flee in terror on July 4. Please bring them into a safe place (garage, laundry room … ). Make sure they cannot climb out of windows or open the doors. At the very least lock yard gates, but inside is preferable. Bring all your animals in at least an hour or two before nightfall. Once the noise starts it will be harder to find them. Close all windows, turn on fans or AC, leave the TV or light classical music on. Close shades so that the animals do not see the fireworks.
If your animal is frightened inside you can put a T-shirt on your animal. Safety-pin the shirt around the stomach so it is snug. This can give awareness to your dog’s body and can create more confidence. Some dogs like to go under beds or in a covered crate. Give your dog a light meal. Eating can affect the limbic system (the emotional center of the brain). If you have to sedate your animal please tell them what you are doing and the reaction of the drug so they do not get frightened when they get groggy.
Please think of your animal this weekend. Take the time out to explain to them what will be happening. Be overly cautious about keeping them safe. It can save their lives. More animals end up lost, dead, or in the shelter on Fourth of July than on any other day. Some are never found. Please take the time to take care of your pets!