Firework Fears

The 4th of July is just around the corner and on June 1st of this year fireworks officially became legal to sell and set off in Iowa. They can be a blast (no pun intended), but they can also be dangerous for anyone on two legs or four – so be careful this holiday season! Along with the immediate fire/burn related risks, a lot of animals are easily scared by loud noises. No matter how well you know your pet, noises and lights that they aren’t used to can make them act unpredictably. It has been said that more pets run away during fireworks season than any other time of the year. Below is a checklist of things to do to prepare for a safe and happy Independence Day.

- Try acclimating your pet to the noises. Find firework noises online and play them in the background on a calm day. Start softly, and increase the volume as you feel is best. Doing this in a controlled setting may get your pet used to the sounds, and can also let you know how your pet may react when the real thing comes along. If you do decide to do this, be very attentive (while still acting calm) so that if they do begin to get scared you can turn it off and try a different route. If these controlled noises cause anxiety in your pet and you continue to play them, it could worsen the fear.
- Double check that your pet has on proper identification, just in case they do get loose.
- Have a safe space ready for your pet to hide if they feel the need. A comfortable den-like space with familiar things like bedding or clothing with your scent on it would be best.
- Close all curtains and doors to reduce the chance of your pet seeing or hearing the fireworks.
- Secure all doors and windows so there is not a place for your inside pet to find a way out.
- Give food and make your nightly trip outside (maybe even an extra long walk) before the festivities begin to avoid connecting the scary noises with their routine.
- Remember that your dog takes cues from you in stressful situations. Act normal and calm like nothing is new or exciting and your pet may feel more comfortable.
- Reward calm behavior. If your pet is food motivated, give them a treat when you notice them relaxing or going about their day as usual. A nice “good boy/girl” can work, too.
- Keep an eye on your pet and have them as far away from the door as possible when opening and closing it.
- Look for signs of distress other than whining or barking. Not all dogs show stress the same way. Other things to pay attention to are excessive yawning or panting.
- Do not ignore, yell at, or force your pet into an uncomfortable situation if they are seeming anxious. This could increase the problem.
- If nothing seems to help your pet in these situations, we do have some gentle pharmaceutical solutions for situational anxiety at All-Pets.

This advice can be applied to the Iowa thunderstorms we all know and love, as well.

So whether you’re going to a BBQ, hosting your own party, or staying in this holiday we hope you and your pet enjoy celebrating next week. Thanks for reading, and as always feel free to drop any questions or concerns in the comments or contact us at the clinic.

BONUS: Sometimes during holiday seasons we’re a little more careless with our food scraps and containers. Check out this list of foods that are unsafe for your dog to make sure they don’t get into anything they shouldn’t.