7 Ways to Calm Your Animals During Fireworks Displays
Whether it’s the Fourth of July or New Year’s Eve, fireworks are terrifying for animals—and can be fatal. Animals don’t understand that the bursts of light and deafening explosions are meant to be fun. To them, Independence Day seems more like the end of days and New Year’s Eve is more like new year, same fear. 💔
Animals have jumped fences, torn through screen doors, and even leaped through glass doors—sometimes seriously injuring themselves in the process—in a desperate (and futile) effort to escape from the noise. Not surprisingly, animal shelters report an influx of lost cats and dogs after fireworks displays. Many animals who disappear on the Fourth of July or New Year’s Eve are never found again.
Some companies have been working to change this by creating quiet fireworks. These pyrotechnics aren’t new—they’ve been used in different venues throughout the U.K. and other countries—but they started gaining publicity in 2015 when a town in Italy passed a law that all fireworks must be quiet.
The good news is that quiet fireworks are now a thing here in the U.S. as well. When PETA heard that a town council member in Costa Mesa, California, was raising money to put on a quiet fireworks display, we donated $5,000 to help fund the show.
But even if the local big fireworks show uses quiet fireworks, your neighbors may set off loud ones. Always play it safe by taking the following seven precautions to help your animal companions survive the holiday displays with as little stress as possible:
1. Never take dogs to fireworks displays or leave them outside alone while fireworks can be heard. Instead, keep them (as well as cats) indoors, and if possible, stay home with them.
2. Make sure your animals are microchipped and that your registration information is up to date. Collars or harnesses with visible ID should also be used when going outdoors.
3. Close all your windows, curtains, and blinds. Frightened dogs sometimes attempt to jump through windows, even on upper floors.
4. Turn on a radio that’s tuned to a classical music station, play specially designed music to calm animals composed by Through a Dog’s Ear, or turn on the TV, window air conditioner, fan, or dehumidifier to help drown out the sound of the fireworks.
When I have to leave my dog, Emerson, home alone, I also like to put on Relax My Dog’s YouTube channel for hours of uninterrupted, calming music.
5. Distract your dog or cat by playing games, and be generous with treats for ignoring explosions. (In addition to being a reward, food has a beneficial effect on brain chemistry.)
6. A ThunderShirt provides gentle, consistent pressure that can help both dogs and cats feel more secure and relaxed during fireworks displays and thunderstorms.
7. Talk to your veterinarian about melatonin, which works wonders to calm some animals down.
Always do this well before a holiday to be prescribed the correct dosage or get a prescription for something stronger, if needed. Your vet may recommend other natural calming supplements for dogs and cats, including herbs, homeopathic treatments, and nutraceuticals, available at any companion animal supply store.
It’s up to us to keep our animal companions calm and comfortable. Follow the suggestions above to help your dog or cat feel safer during terrifying times—and share these tips with your friends and family to encourage them to make a difference instead of making harmful noise.