As a the proud pet-parent of three fur-kids, I can tell you that for a pet affected by loud noises, the sounds of fireworks and thunderstorms can be a terrifying and uncomfortable time.  Just like a small child, your fur-kid has no control over their reaction to loud noises. 

Signs induced by fear of loud noises include:

  • Shaking, trembling
  • Excessive drooling
  • Barking, howling
  • Trying to hide or get into / out of the house, fence, or other enclosure
  • Refusing to eat food
  • Some animals may loose bladder or bowel control or experience temporary diarrhea from prolonged stress

Your fur-kid may be so terrified that they are driven by fear to escape.  Years ago I had a boxer that I rescued that went through a plate-glass window during a Fourth-Of-July celebration, resulting in severe lacerations to her feet and legs.  I’ve seen torn fencing, foot pad injuries, chewed doors and broken teeth from fur-kids trying to chew their way out of metal crates.  Sadly, many pets get loose and are lost forever (which is another important reason why you should always have your pet micro-chipped).  They just run and run…to escape the noise that is scaring them so badly.

Our furkids, much like our people kids, do not have the ability to “rationalize” their fears. So  “disciplining” your furkid by yelling at it or striking it does NOT work and will only make their fear WORSE (would you do that to your people-kid?).  

Here are a few things you can do to help your pet during a storm or fireworks display:

  • Get them a “Thundershirt” –  Thundershirt’s gentle, constant pressure has a dramatic calming effect for most dogs if they are anxious, fearful or over-excited. Based on surveys completed by over two thousand customers, over 80% of dogs show significant improvement in symptoms when using Thundershirt. Thundershirt is already helping tens of thousands of dogs around the world, and is recommended by thousands of veterinarians and dog trainers. Experts believe that pressure has a calming effect on the nervous system. Using pressure to relieve anxiety has been a common practice for years.
  • Keep fur-kids home –  It may be tempting to bring along your dog(s) so everyone can enjoy the fun, but the loud noises aren’t usually fun for pets.
  • Keep fur-kids indoors if possible- Close blinds and turn on the TV or radio loud enough to drown out the noise.
  • Provide a safe “escape” place-Many times pets will seek out a small den-like place (such as a crate), if they are fearful or stressed. If you do not already have a crate, bed or similar place that your pet can call his/her “own,” it is recommended to create that safe place and familiarize your pet with it before needed, as a means of reducing stress during fireworks and thunderstorms. I have found that a blanket thrown over the crate will help calm them as well.
  • Use a leash or carrier-If you must be outside with your fur-kid, keep the pet on a leash or in carrier at all times.
  • Practice fire safety-Keep your fur-kids away from matches, lighter fuel, open fires, and fireworks – especially ones that are lighted on the ground. Fur-kids may try to sniff (or eat) fireworks, and pet hair can easily catch fire if too close to the fireworks.
  • Take your fur-kid for a potty-break first If possible, make sure that your furkid has time to “use the restroom” before the fireworks start. Some pets are too frightened to void once the fireworks begin, and this may lead to an “accident” later on.
  • Make sure pet ID is current-Make sure that your pet has been microchipped, or at least has identification tags on it that contain your current contact information, in case s/he gets away. This will help the local authorities (who are quite busy this time of year handling frightened runaways).
By Beth Green, Owner