How to Relieve 4th of July Pet Anxiety

A gray, long dog lays anxiously by the door on the fourth of July.

Anxiety is a very common emotions for humans. However, it is something equally as likely to be experienced by pets, particularly during times of uncertainty and stress. 4th July may be a day for American celebration, but it is anything but a joyous occasion for the millions of pets across the country who fear the noise, lights and unusual activity that the date inevitably brings.

Firework displays are par for the course on Independence Day, yet these beautiful pyrotechnics are a leading cause of stress and anxiety for animals. This is mainly for two reasons. Firstly, our pets don’t understand what fireworks are and that the flashing lights and loud noises do not pose a threat to them. Secondly, animals have much better hearing than we do and so the loud bangs, pops and whizzes of fireworks can actually cause your pet very real pain.

Symptoms of anxiety

Animals react to anxiety in a number of different ways. More pets run away on 4th July than any other date in the year as they try to escape the overwhelming noise and brightness of pyrotechnic displays. Others may cower and hide, destroy things or lose the ability to control their bladder or bowels.

Other symptoms of anxiety your pet may display include:

  • Trembling/shaking
  • Tucked-in tail
  • Hiding
  • Panting
  • Licking her lips
  • Yawning
  • Pacing
  • Vocalizing

Preventing escape

If you have a dog or cat, one of your biggest priorities should be doing everything that you can to prevent your pet from escaping your property. If she does, she may panic and run into danger or become lost and very difficult to find. Close all doors and windows and secure cat flaps so that your furbaby cannot get outside.

Just as an additional precaution, make sure that your personal information on her collar or microchip is up to date. This will make it easier to be reunited with her should she somehow manage to get away from you.

Relieving your pet’s anxiety

Fortunately, there are a variety of different things that you can do to help relieve the fear and anxiety your pet may feel, which should help her feel happier and more confidence when 4th July arrives.

Preparation is key and there are several changes that you can make to her environment which will enable your pet to feel more secure. These include:

Get your pet inside in plenty of time. This primarily applies to outdoor cats. You don’t want to be rushing around trying to find and coax your pet back inside in the hours just before the pyrotechnics start. Instead, get your pet secure in your property well before the first rocket goes up.

Move enclosures inside. Bringing any hutches or habitats indoors away from the worst of the noise and flashing lights. If you aren’t able to do this, turn the enclosure so that it is facing a wall rather than open land and cover it with blankets or bedding. This will dull the noise and minimize the light interference that your pet will experience. Just be sure to leave space for adequate ventilation and uncover your pet once the fireworks have finished.

Provide space for her to hide. Animals who are anxious or fearful usually want to hide away as much as possible. For smaller pets it is beneficial to provide extra bedding materials for her to burrow into – such as extra hay for rabbits and guinea pigs. For cats and dogs, this may be a case of setting up a ‘den’ filled with blankets and her favorite toy or letting her hide in or under your bed until the noise has stopped.

Give her the emotional support that she needs. Some animals will crave love, attention and verbal reassurance to help them feel safe. Others will want to hide away from everyone and everything. Ensure you support your pet’s emotional needs by following her body language and adhering to her wishes.

Stay home. Unless you really can’t avoid going out, do everything you can to stay home with your pet. Your presence will automatically go some way to alleviating her anxiety.

Very few pets will ever find 4th July a pleasurable experience, but with preparation and patience, many owners can help make the date a tolerable one for their furry, scaly or feathered family member.

For further advice on how to relieve 4th July anxiety for your pet, contact us and make an appointment with our veterinary team.