The 4th of July is almost here and we have already heard some early celebrations. It can be a scary time for dogs and cats. A pet’s hearing is 25 times more sensitive than a human and they don’t understand what all the noise is about.
Every year, the Nebraska Humane Society sees dogs who have run away terrified due to fireworks. The loud noise can scare dogs so badly they go over fences, break chains and even go through windows and glass doors in a panic. Cats bolt and look for hiding places. Traumatized, they can run out in traffic or end up hiding for days.
"Charlie" loves looking out of the front window, but the cracking of fireworks spins him into a frenzy. Charlie's not alone. Many of us own dogs who react to the booming of fireworks and thunderstorms.
Kelly Witt decided to check with her veterinarian. "Oh, it's terrible. As soon as it starts I get the little barks and she starts shaking and runs under the bed. It's tough. In the past we've used prescription medicine and Benedryl. It calms her down so that she can relax a little bit more."
Dr. Courtney Knott at the American Animal Hospital says there are several products that may help quell the nervousness. "It's the unknown of what the noise is all about, they're not used to that and instinctively that just creates fear."
There are room diffusers and collars. Both release a scent. "Which is similar to what their nursing mother gives off and that's comforting and calming."
The last resort is medication to calm the animal. That's what Witt opted for. "The fireworks have started and the storms are moving through so we refilled the prescription so we're prepared."
Keep pets safe by keeping them indoors. No matter how social a dog is, don't take them to places where fireworks are displayed. Combine the scary noise and lights with crowds and your normally happy canine may just go berserk.
A quiet basement or interior room provides some insulation from the noise and also is usually less trafficked so it's a calmer place. Give your pet a crate, box or open closet door and put their bed inside. This will provide a safe feeling den for both dogs and cats and don't forget their favorite toys. Turn on a fan, soft music on the radio or low television to muffle the sound further and provide normal noise your pet is used to hearing.
Make sure they are wearing updated ID tags so if they do bolt you can get them back. Feliway for cats or Comfort Zone for dogs are non-narcotic plug-ins that provide pheromones which can help calm a pet and Rescue Remedy is a herbal remedy that can provide calming effects.
There's the Thundershirt, which gives the animal a sense of being held tightly. "And that pressure around their midsection helps with reducing stress," says Dr. Knott. Thundershirts come with a money back guarantee and you'll want to get one now and begin using it immediately so your pet it used to it by the 4th.
This is scary stuff for them so be patient. Which option works best for your pet depends on the animal and the environment. The bottom line is try to do whatever possible to keep your pet calm and create a secure environment.
The Nebraska Humane Society at 8929 Fort Street in Omaha is open weekends from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m and weekdays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. You can always look up animals and find information at nehumanesociety.org.