….KABOOM!!! Downer time!
That’s what it’s like for countless PTSD sufferers (such as veterans and gun violence victims), house pets, and farm
animals. This includes any fireworks for any occasion. Across America, animal shelters plan for months to prepare for the influx of lost pets that happens around the 4th of July. Then you see it on the news after other celebrations as well. There are many things you can do to keep your pet as calm and safe as possible during fireworks season, and especially on the big night. Most of these are applicable to thunder fear as well.
All of the following are important things to do for your scared pet on scary holidays, storms, etc.
- Got a puppy? Improve its overall quality of life. long-term. If it hasn’t learned to be scared of fireworks, you can likely train it not to be afraid! This can be done with most ages of dogs, wether or not they are afraid. Here is an article on how to do that, and here is another.
- Keep your pets and loved ones safe, and as close to you as possible- or get someone else to be near them, in a familiar place. When possible, take them to a place where the noises are less or none. Now is not the time to go out partying and forget about your pets.
- Wherever they are, make sure they are NOT outside tied to anything, or near things that could hurt them. This includes thinking of ways they might TRY to escape and/or get stuck. Dogs stuck in holes in the wall, or too-small cat doors for example.
- Kennel train your dog months ahead or as soon as you get it, so it can be as comfortable and safe as possible in these types of situations. even if you don’t use it on a regular basis, get the kennel out for times like this (or rent/borrow one), and follow the other instructions here. When positively trained to kennels, they give your dog a sense of security.
- If your pet lets you, plug your dogs/cat’s ears with ear plugs if possible (keep them, and use the same ones again as needed- not single use). If not, try cotton balls.
- Try some supplements- CBDs are good, but best to work up to for about a week or 2 before with daily dosing. Valerian is strong, and safe for dogs. It can make them fall asleep! BUT… It will affect your cat like catnip does (it IS catnip!). So don’t use valerian on the kitties if you want them to be calm. Many other effective options as well…
- Play loud-ish (or soft, if your pet is sensitive like that) music, movies, podcasts, etc- preferably calm stuff, but something that masks the sound of the fireworks. Fans help also.
- Try a thunder vest- they are made to hug your dog in a way that is extremely soothing to them. Your dog may need to be trained to it, but probably will just love it instantly. they’re highly effective in most cases. They make similar things for humans, like heavy blankets. See how to make your own with an ace bandage, here.
- Too much soothing and cooing over your pets in these situation actually aggravates their panic, and can teach them to panic even more. Let them be near you or wherever they need to be, and reassure them some, but don’t obsess over them.
- Mid-tone soft voices are better than high, whiny, worried ones, or, obviously, angry ones. Let your pet have their space and experience. Hold space for them. As mundane as it is to you, this is one of the scariest moments of their life.
- If you can’t do any of these things and you’re going out, PLEASE take your dog to a kennel for the night. this takes planning and reservations. Plan ahead.