We’re fast approaching Canada Day here in the North (and July 4th for our friends in the United States). And no matter where you are, you’re probably getting ready for a massive fireworks show to light up the sky.
However, we know that, rather than being excited about those colourful displays, many pet parents are gearing up for a long night of pacing and hiding. To be honest, we’d love to see fireworks banned, but since that won’t happen before this weekend…
Many pets – as many as 40% in fact – have anxiety. And that anxiety often comes out in full force when fireworks are set off. That loud bang, and even the vibrations, can cause pets extreme stress, leaving them cowering in a corner or rushing out the door, hopping a fence, or breaking off that leash.
Thankfully, although we can’t give you a cure-all to break a fear of fireworks, we do have some tried-and-true tips to help your pet cope!
Tips to Help with a Fear of Fireworks
If your pet has a fear of fireworks, there are several ways to help keep her calm, both before the show and during.
1. A Safe Space
Make sure your pet has a safe place to escape to. This is probably the most important thing you can do if your pet has a fear of fireworks.
This could be a closet, a bedroom, even their crate. Build a fort with blankets on the sides to block out some of that noise. If they don’t mind the bathtub, layer it with blankets and let them sneak away for the surrounding comfort.
Additionally, that safe space may be right beside you. Maybe your pet’s a cuddler. Maybe she’s not. But if, on July 1st or 4th, you find her slinking in trying to get as close to your lap as possible, give her a few pets, invite her to sit with you, and speak soothingly. Your lap, next to your feet or curled up nice and close on the couch, whatever works. Often just being near their owner can calm a pet down.
2. Block Out the Noise (or Build it Up)
Playing music during the fireworks can often help to calm an anxious pet. Look for soothing, calming tunes – jazz is a favourite in our house – and play it at a level that is comfortable, but not blaring. Remember, your animal has much more sensitive hearing that you do!
Closing the windows may also help block out the noise.
On days when you know fireworks will have your pet scared, or a few days leading up to it, gently introduce noise during the day to desensitize your pet. You might even opt to play sounds of fireworks. Make sure you aren’t scaring your pet as you do this, and if you notice it isn’t helping, stop! Some will respond well to this approach, whereas others don’t quite get the connection.
3. Natural Remedies
You may also want to consider a natural calming remedy to ease those fears and help your pet relax.
Julie’s top homeopathic remedies for a fear of fireworks are:
- Aconite 1M or 200C given 1 hour prior to sunset.
- Argentum nitricum 200C and phosphorus 200C can both be added to mix as well.
Take 2 pellets of each remedy, add them to a cup of water, let them dissolve for 30 minutes to an hour, and give the water to your pet. Do this an hour before sunset, and continue into the night if needed, up to four doses.
- 3 teaspoons for large dose
- 2 teaspoons for medium dogs
- 1 teaspoon for small dogs or cats
Bach Flower Essence Rescue Remedy is also a good choice. Start putting it in your animal’s water, 4-5 drops, in the afternoon.
CBD oil can also provide natural calming for your pet. Follow the directions on the bottle for proper dosing. Give it about 30 minutes before you think the fireworks will start.
NOTE: These remedies are also good for your horse! If you horse is fearful of fireworks, don’t forget about them!
4. Be Patient and Understanding
Remember, this is a genuine fear – not some misplaced bid for attention. Be patient and understanding. Don’t stress – she’ll feel that stress and it will just work to solidify her current state.
If your pet has an accident, don’t get mad. Clean it up and go back to relaxing. Don’t put any additional stress on your animal – that won’t help the situation.
Also, if your pet tends to get destructive when the fear of fireworks hits, don’t put her outside, or tie her up. If left outside, she might bolt, and you might be surprised how high even the smallest dogs can jump. And tied up, either inside or out, could lead to an injury.
If you have plans to leave your pet at home, consider changing them. Our animals need their pack to help them feel comfortable, and if your dog has a fear of fireworks, you really don’t want to leave her alone to cope on her own. She needs that steady, safe person to be able to turn to.
When fireworks strike, give your pet the comfort she needs to get through the evening with as little stress as possible.