Did you know that July 5 is the biggest intake day of the year for animal shelters? Every year the fireworks and celebrations scare dogs and cats and they lose their way. Here are some precautions to make sure your furry friends stay safe at home. All of these tips also apply to pets who are afraid of thunderstorms, too.
1. Keep them secure
All pets should be kept indoors during fireworks, whether they're being exposed to a large municipal show or the backyard noisemakers. It's too easy for a dog or cat to slip a collar, jump a fence, or simply run away when the air is exploding in noise all around them. A quiet basement or a back room away from windows is usually the best place. Provide indoor cats with hiding spots where they can feel safe, and warn children not to try to reach in and try to pet their pal if they've found a dark quiet spot. For outdoor cats, a doghouse or under-deck space usually provides some refuge. Playing music loudly can also decrease the stimulation from the outdoor bangs and pops.
Now is also a great time to double check your pet's microchip - your vet can scan the chip to make sure it works, and you can log in to the manufacturer's database to make sure your contact information is up to date.
3. Supplement for stress
Calming supplements and foods work best when given for several weeks to months, so start now. There can be some effect when given the day of, but the further ahead you start the less panic your pet will feel when the fireworks start. Clinically proven calming foods include Hill's C/D Stress for cats and I/D stress for dogs, and Royal Canin Calm for both cats and dogs.
Supplements Zylkene and Solliquin are both excellent at decreasing anxiety when given daily, and while you may see a change on day 1, they will reach peak effect in 6 weeks. They are based on the milk protein casein, which is one of the factors that promotes relaxation in newborns after nursing.
ProQuiet is a bit less potent than Zylkene and Solliquin, but it's meant to be given several hours before a trigger event instead of every day. It is full of l-tryptophan, the same amino acid that makes us calm after a turkey dinner.
4. Medicate if needed
There's no shame in needing a little more chemical help for our pets. We can't explain to them that the fireworks will be done shortly, and a safe calming medication prevents the wind-up of fear and adrenaline. Talk to your veterinarian about which medication is best for your pet - there are a number of options, and the treatment plan should be made with your pet's specific health status and fear response in mind. Medications used for situational anxiety include diazepam, alprazolam, lorazepam, and sileo. They must be prescribed by a veterinarian, so plan enough time to have your pet seen for an appointment if needed before getting the medication.
So with these strategies, we can help our pets have a calm, safe 4th of July - and maybe weather the summer thunderstorms a little more easily too.