Both Sides Of The Fireworks.

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Reveler or Pet Owner?

Every year, July 4th begs the discussion about pets and fireworks. It is common knowledge that animals are frightened by fireworks and, as a direct result of that fear, too often find themselves in harm’s way. Animals will jump fences, dig under gates, bolt out doors, pull away from their leash as owners walk them, even jump out of owners’ arms and run away.

They run out of fear with no idea where they are running to or what they are running from.  All they know is they need to get away from the frightening noises. They simply are reacting physically to sensory overload on their eyes and ears. And sadly, too often they end up at the county pound or subject to a multitude of other sad outcomes that could have been avoided by some very simple preparation. 4th of July does NOT have to be a threat to our pets. This post addresses both sides of the pets and fireworks issue, and offers a caring common ground for everyone. 

Suggestions For Pet Owners.

To help protect your pet from panic and dangerous reaction, you need to eliminate traumatic input to some of his senses–mainly eyes and ears. Try these simple but very helpful tricks. First, and super easy, remove the visual overload. Keep your pet in the house where he cannot see the fireworks in the sky or out on the streets. Close shades and doors. That’s it. You just took the most important step to protect him from running away, and eliminated the element of fear from his eyes.

Second, remove the sensory overload from his ears. Turn on music or a movie. Just your everyday, normal volume, and your usual go-to music or movies. Not blasting loud, either. You’re not trying to overpower the fireworks noise completely, and you don’t want to trade one loud problem for another. Normal volume music or tv will be enough to distract him from the scary loud noises outside, and it will begin to soothe your pet. If you prefer, turn on a fan, or run the laundry instead. You have now removed the element of fear from your pet’s ears. With considerably less sensory impact, your pet can now begin to calm down.

Third, and most importantly, keep yourself calm and act totally normal. To be clear, don’t just pretend to be calm–you need to actually BE calm. Pets know the difference. Deep, slow breathing will help you maintain your normal heartbeat and pulse. Your soothing energy will transfer to your pet as long as you’re not faking it. Also, don’t coddle your pet any more than usual. Over-comforting your pet actually tells him that he was right to be afraid. It may not make sense to you, but that’s how animals think. To be successful here, you need to think like your pet. Keep yourself relaxed and calm, and act totally normal, like it’s just another day.

Don’t go overboard talking high-pitched baby talk and “there theres” to him, and holding him tight, rocking back and forth. These moves on your part actually create more hysteria on his part, because you are confirming his fears, not reducing them. Go about your housework, laundry, meal prep, etc. Let him follow you around the house or hide, whichever he chooses. Even in hiding, he’ll feel your normal, calm energy and eventually tiptoe out of hiding. Give him a scratch or pat on the head as you usually do, or toss a toy with him, but keep it normal, don’t overdo the sympathy and attention.

The most important thing is for you to act normal. Your pet takes his cue from you, and acting normal will send your pet the message that he is safe and sound as always, and everything is indeed okay.

Suggestions For Revelers.

July 4th is an exciting day to look forward to. For the best outcome for everyone, be mindful of your neighbors and their pets. One easy and very considerate thing you can do is reach out to your neighbors BEFORE you start shooting off fireworks, just to give them a heads-up. That way they can prepare for it ahead of time instead of being surprised after the fireworks have already begun. This will help your neighbors best manage their pets’ fears, and keep everyone, including the pets, safe and at peace with each other, while you are now free to enjoy your celebration.

If possible, choose a place for your fireworks away from the neighborhood that doesn’t intrude too closely on your neighbors.  Do you have a neighborhood park or field nearby?  Maybe a school playground or empty parking lot?  If not, consider asking a friend or relative if you can shoot off your fireworks show at their home?  Of course, that assumes that your friend or relative doesn’t have neighbors with pets as well. The idea is to use your imagination and be willing to accommodate others around you for this brief period of time so you can celebrate freely and they don’t suffer any negative or dangerous impact.

Lastly, try not to draw your fireworks playtime on night after night. The ongoing stress puts pets at even greater risk for harm over an extended period of time. But, if you must, remember to give your neighbors a friendly and thoughtful heads-up. Simple courtesies we can give each other go a long way to build good will among us and our pets too.

Happy 4th Of July For All Of Us!

Enjoy Your Holiday, Everyone! God Bless America, And God Bless Us All, Including Our Beloved Pets!

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God Bless and Happy Pet Parenting!

With love and good wishes,
jeannie.   ?

About jeannie:  I’ve been pro-actively involved in pet rescue all of my life. I founded Milagro Senior Pet Refuge© (Phoenix) in 1998, and BareFootPets (TM) in 2008. Animal welfare has always been and will always be my heart’s work. If my only legacy is that I save a handful of precious souls that would not survive otherwise, I’m good with that.