What Should You Do When Your Pets Are Scared of Fireworks?

Posted by John O'Keefe on

When the Fourth of July rolls around, it's common for animal poison control centers to receive more calls about animals not only ingesting fireworks but also about the anxiety they may face over their loud noises.

You may be excited to go to fireworks shows for different holidays every year, but your pet has a different opinion. You may even find yourself confused as to why they're scared every time fireworks light up the sky.

Luckily, we're to help you understand the fear, and show you different ways you can help your furry friend. Read on to learn more.

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Why Are Pets Afraid of Fireworks?

To know what you can do to help them, it's best to know why your pet is reacting the way they are.

Since pets have a better sense of hearing than humans, the noise that fireworks bring is only magnified for them. The sound can feel alarming and unexpected. Not only this, but they never set off the same light or color, nor are they on a set schedule, so your pet can't get used to them.

The loud noise and unpredictability can even feel like a threat to your pet — triggering their fight or flight. This can cause them to try to run from the noise, or result in signs of anxiety like pacing, panting, and whining (especially for dogs). Cats are likely to run and hide until the fireworks are over.

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How to Help Them Feel Safe

To help with your pet's firework phobia, there are a few things you can do to help them feel safe. Before we start, it's important to mention that you need to check with your vet before deciding to take on certain methods we're about to discuss! Now, let's dive in.

Keep Them Inside

Though this one doesn't need veterinary approval, it does need to be applied to all pets.

If you have any outdoor pets, be sure to bring them inside on nights that fireworks are set to light up the sky. It's common for pets to attempt to run away when they hear fireworks, so bringing them inside is a great way to keep them safe.

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Create a Safe Space

Once you've brought your pet inside, it's best to create a safe space for them to go during the fireworks. It's surprisingly easy to calm your dog with soft music, white noise, and even their crate or carrier. The same also goes for cats.

Crates and carriers feel like a den to your pet, and it gives them a place to hide when they need it. Place blankets over the top to further block out noise and light. If you don't have a crate, but do have an interior, windowless room, place their safe space here. This room is likely to experience less noise, and you can darken it if they feel the need to hide.

Cats are especially likely to cram their way into whatever small space they can find. If you know what room they're in, then you know that they're safe if you can't find them later on.

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Desensitize

You can calm your cat or dog by getting them prepared for the noise beforehand. This process can take a while, so it's best to start three to four months in advance, but it can be done in as little as one or two weeks.

Start playing firework sounds around your pet. Once they hear the sound, immediately follow it up with something good, like treats, food, a walk, or even affection and play.

They begin to associate that noise with treats and other good things and it's easier to interpret the sound as something positive.

Remember, the less time you spend on this method, the better it is to pair this method with one of the others we've already mentioned.

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Try Anxiety Reducing Measures

If you find that none of the other methods are working, you may have to turn to an external anxiety-reducing measure.

You can try anxiety wraps (or a snugly-fitting shirt), CBD oil for pets, or even other things that can help them go to sleep. Just remember to consult your veterinarian before allowing your pet to ingest anything they haven't before.

If you're able, it's also a good idea to have a trial run beforehand to know whether or not it's going to work.

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Prepare Beforehand

Though you can take other measures, the best thing you can do is prepare your pet before any fireworks displays.

Take them for a walk before the fireworks start or have a long play session so their energy is expended. By then, they'll be ready to relax for the evening. 

If you're going out, be sure to leave them with someone you trust so they're not alone and so they can go to the bathroom. If you're staying with them, be sure to keep an eye on them, and remember to stay calm yourself!

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Remember the Role You Play

It's important to remember that your pet looks to you for cues. While you can try to soothe them with words, it's your actions and emotions that are going to do the most for them.

Animals are great at picking up on energies. If you're anxious, excited, or reactive while any fireworks are going off, then your animal is likely to act the same way. If you're calm and relaxed, then your animal is more likely to be calm as well.

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