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Keep your pets safe and sane during fireworks and summer storms

Posted 4 July 2014 at 12:00 am

Robbi Hess

By Robbi Hess

Humans know, understand and usually love the brilliant light displays and thunderous “booms” that go along with the July 4 festivities. Our pets, however, do not. Just as recent thunderstorms have sent my poodle scurrying to my side to press her face into my leg, fireworks displays have the same effect.

For many pets, storms and fireworks can lead to fear, anxiety, running away and even biting incidents. When you consider that many animal rescues – according to the Human Society of the United States – report July 4 as one of the biggest incidences of the year when they are overrun with dogs who ran away from their owners during a fireworks display, you can see the need for additional caution.

Here are five steps you can take to ensure your pets’ safety:

1. Leave her home. But, don’t leave her home if she is noise-phobic. You may need to curtail your plans to care for your pet. Do not take your pets with you to parades or fireworks displays. They will not appreciate you bringing them to a spot where they will not only be surrounded by strangers, but subjected to the brilliant lights and thunderous booms. If you have to take your pet out of doors to answer the call of nature, make sure he is securely tethered – no off leash romps during storms or fireworks, please.

2. If you’re staying home with your pet, find a safe spot to sit with him. If your pet doesn’t have a go-to space, take him with you into a room that is the furthest away from the noise of the fireworks. Spend time in a cool, air conditioned room, run a fan, turn on a television and ride out the event.

3. Don’t give into the impulse of coddling your pet. Because our pets intuitively read our emotions, this is one of the worst things you can do. Stay calm and your pet will pick up on those cues and calm down.

4. There are products on the market such as herbal calming remedies or even “gentle wrap” jackets which apply gentle pressure and help reduce a dog’s anxiety. The gentle wraps – such as a Thundershirt – can eliminate the need for medication, but you get your pet accustomed to this prior to actually needing it.

5. Cats can become as agitated by the fireworks or storms as your dogs. Make sure if you have outdoor cats that they are somewhere secure during both storms and fireworks. If they are indoors, keep them with you in a cool, quiet area of the house until the excitement has passed.

If you have a houseful of people and aren’t certain how your pet will react to the loud noises, it may be best to excuse yourself and your pet as a way to calm her down and prevent any biting incidents.

Editor’s note: Robbi Hess, a former journalist, will be a new regular columnist for the Orleans Hub. She has lived in Orleans County for more than 20 years.

Hess is a long-time blogger, copywriter and two-year breast cancer survivor. She writes and speaks about topics ranging from time management to Baby Boomer issues to articles of interest to solopreneurs as well as pet-related topics. She lives in Albion with her family, her diva poodle, a husky-lab mix, a bearded dragon and four rescue cats. You can see more about her by clicking here.)