Help for Pet Firework Fears: 10 Tips For Your Scared Dog & Fraidy Cat

Pet noise phobias include being scared of thunderstorms and–of course pet firework fears. Many of the tips for noise fears apply, no matter the cause. Thunder can be hard to predict, though, and at least with pet firework fears, we know in advance that July 4 and New Years fireworks will be an issue.

Trembling, crouching, and lip licking can be signs of fear.

Trembling, crouching, and lip licking can be signs of fear.

PET FIREWORK FEARS

I write about pet firework fears every year at this time. But each of these 10 tips for your scared dog or cat can make a positive difference in your best friend’s life. It HURTS to be frightened, and makes us feel bad when pets are upset.

Fireworks from July 4th celebration may be festive to you, but can turn your pets into nervous wrecks. More cats and dogs—and even livestock like horses—become lost on this day than any other when pets panic, go through windows, break tethers and leap fences.

scared cat

Scared cats crouch and may hide under the bed.

Even safely contained pets shiver, moan, and feel worse with each noisy boom. You may not see quivering scaredy-cats but the stress from noise phobia increases risk of hit-or-miss litter box behavior.

It can take weeks or even months for desensitization and counter-conditioning techniques to teach fearful pets that noises won’t hurt them. With July 4th right around the corner, refer to these 10 tips for more immediate help.

pet fireworks fears

Throw a “thunder-party” with treats for each “boom.”

10 Tips For Pet Fireworks Fears

  • Scared animals calm themselves down by squeezing into tight spots and hiding their eyes. For instance, your dog wriggles between the sofa and wall, while kitty hides her face in your armpit. Offer your pets safe hiding place and let them be.
  • Avoid sympathetic baby-talk that rewards the fear. When you get upset or coddle your cat and dog during fireworks, you tell them they have good reason to be scared. Instead, be matter of fact. When it “booms” you can acknowledge the noise, “That was loud. But it doesn’t bother me, see? It shouldn’t bother you.”
  • Anti-anxiety training tools can help. Anxiety Wrap and Thundershirt are types of dog “vests” the pet wears that apply pressure to his body, and seem to calm fear in pets. They have Thundershirt for cats, too.
  • Cover up the sound with white noise. Use a white noise machine or a radio tuned to static works well.
  • Play soothing music. Harp music has a unique sedative effect on pets, because the rhythms and sounds mimic brain waves and help calm the fear. Harp music may prompt you to nap, too. I’m a fan of PetPause.
pet fireworks fears

Get kitty “drunk” on catnip…

  • Pheromone products also relieve fear and anxiety in pets. Comfort Zone with DAP (dog appeasing pheromone) works well for noise-phobic dogs—it’s produced by mom-dogs when they nurse pups and sooths dogs of any age. The product for cats, Feliway, relieves the cat’s anxiety about her territory because it’s similar to the cheek-pheromone that relieves kitty stress. Both DAP and Feliway come as sprays or plug-in diffusers and the dog product also comes as a collar. The spray can be used every one to two hours on bedding or a bandana the pet wears. You can also get the Sentry Calming Collars for both dogs and cats that also use the mother’s pheromone.
  • Just as human babies may be soothed by a car ride, a road trip may soothe pets that enjoy the car and take their mind off the noise. Just be sure your cat or dog LIKES car rides, and is safely secured in a carrier or restraint in the back seat during the ride.
  • The brain can’t think when in a state of panic. But the opposite holds true as well—when thinking, the brain won’t go nutso and turn your pet into a shrieking escape artist. So just before the fireworks start, drill your dog—or your cat—on favorite commands and tricks with lots of special yummy rewards or games. Continue the games throughout and throw a happy-dance party for him staying calm.
  • Whatever you do, be sure that your precious pet stays safe. Bring outdoor pets inside the garage or the house during the July 4th Provide a crate or confinement in a pet-proofed room.
  • Move horses into secure fenced areas—or better—barns that will safely contain a frantic animal without chance of injury. And just in case, be sure all your precious pets are microchipped or have other permanent and reliable identification for recovery if they do the desperado dash when the rocket’s red glare fill the sky.

Now it’s your turn. Do you have a dog or cat that hates fireworks? How do you manage the angst? Any stories you can share about a July 4th pet fiasco? Please share!


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Comments

Help for Pet Firework Fears: 10 Tips For Your Scared Dog & Fraidy Cat — 43 Comments

  1. Pingback: Pet Music Therapy: How to Use Music to Sooth Dog Stress & Calm Cats

  2. I worked really hard on desensitizing my dogs to loud noises, including thunder and fireworks. I’m so glad that this is a fear-free time of year for us. But there are so many pets that experience this and it makes me so sad. These are great suggestions!

  3. Great tips. I’m shocked at how many people leave their pets outside unattended during fireworks. Breaks my heart. Love, love music! Car rides too.

  4. Sometimes the noise makes me jumpy. It’s the firecrackers on the street that we hate in this house. But I try yawning and acting relaxed, just scratching Sophie’s head. That often calms her down. And Rufus snuggles with her and licks her face – and he’s the baby! So adorable that he wants to protect her.

  5. I hate fireworks and personally feel that the money spent on them should be given to charities. I also wrote about safety tips this week as I think it is just so so so important for everyone to remember – thanks for the great tips

    • That would be a great option–give the $$ to charities. And every time a donation comes through, virtual FIREWORKS could explode on the computer screen. *s*

  6. I’ve been lucky, so far so good with our pets and fireworks/thunderstorms but I love all the tips! The white noise also works when traveling to new places. We listen to waves or rain and it helps the whole family, furry and human alike, sleep better when away from home.

  7. The girls didn’t used to be afraid of loud noises, but something must have happened a couple of years ago to change that. Truffle does slink away under the bed. I’ve learned to talk normally to her and I have the TV a little louder. I have given them some calming treats, which helps a little.

  8. These tips are great! I hadn’t even thought about how the baby talk might come off as a reward to a pet. I’m pretty blessed because my cats are only mildly upset by fireworks. They show signs of being aggravated at the noise, but they are curious at the same time. As long as I’m around, they stay really calm.

    • That’s great–curious is very positive, much better than hiding. My old lady cat is too deaf now to care, but never seemed to pay attention anyway. The young guy has been started now and then by thunder. We didn’t have fireworks last year (burn ban) so don’t know how he’ll do with them this time around.

  9. Such awesome tips! I’ll definitely be sharing this. It’s so important! Simba actually doesn’t mind the fireworks…he just gets at attention sometimes with his ears pointing up just wondering what the noise is, but that’s bout it.

    • Magic is the same, the noise is of interest but doesn’t scare him. My Karma-Kat, though, has been startled a time or two with thunder. Not sure about the fireworks. So far, we’ve not had too many “booms” to worry about.

  10. You know, I never thought about horses and other barnyard animals also being afraid of thunder or fireworks – not sure why that never occurred to me. Probably because I don’t know a thing about them, living in the city or crowded ‘burbs. These are all great tips. This year I’m adding some treats that are supposed to help w/ calming but I’m not so sure they’ll really work.
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  11. My dog April is a bit fearful of loud noises. She comes over to me and wants to lay close to me, I give her that. My dog Jessie used to go to one of several hiding places, she’d wait out the noise, then eventually rejoin us. I saw an article online over the weekend about noiseless fireworks being used in Europe, I think. Wish they would do that here!

  12. Pingback: Summertime Pet Safety, July 4 & How to Find Lost Pets

  13. Great tips and info! We have one pup that hates fireworks, and it gets worse the older he gets! We make sure he has a calm space and use the TV to drown out the sounds outside. It worked wonderfully last night!

    • Good idea! We’ve had a relatively calm night so far, but are far away from the “formal” fireworks. And our neighbors (not close) are classy and haven’t lit a single fuse. *s*

  14. These are great tips! Two years ago I read that there are noiseless fireworks. I am hoping these become more popular. I can only imagine how scary fireworks are for wildlife.

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