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  • Rachel Doran

Calming Your Pet During 4th of July and Other Stressful Scenarios

Summer night fireworks, a new squishy baby, finally moving into your dream home. All exciting memorable times in a person’s life; but all can be some of the most stressful events in your pets’ life. While we can see these events for the uniquely fun and beautiful experiences that they are, our pets have a harder time seeing the excitement when their sweet little senses are being overwhelmed. For some pets, this can just mean hiding under the bed until the scary passes, but for others, it can mean a sudden change in behavior following a traumatic event. And sometimes, that change can last a lifetime.The good news is there are ways we can help our four-legged besties to cope with the stress. Here are some tips, tricks, suggestions, and products that you can try the next time you anticipate a stressful scenario that your pet will be exposed to.

As always, it is important to remember we are not veterinarians. If you are worried that your pet is experiencing higher than usual levels of anxiety or isn’t coping well even with all your best efforts, it is always a good idea to speak with your vet. However, for many of us, the anxiety and stress our pet feels in response to high stimulus situations is normal and can be mitigated with a few simple tips.

Preparing for Fourth of July

We are in the thick of summer and coming up on everyone’s favorite patriotic holiday. In most places across America that means parades, parties and of course, fireworks. So many fireworks. Fireworks that are planned and set off by the professionals in individual communities and fireworks set off by our slightly more enthusiastic than necessary neighbors - every night for what seems like months. While these are bright and beautiful to us; our pets’ incredible hearing makes these hallmarks of our celebration very scary. They likely aren’t seeing the beautiful colors and patterns. They are just hearing loud bangs.

The first and most important way to keep them safe during these patriotic celebrations is to keep them inside. The pop of the fireworks can frighten a pup causing them to run off in fear. When they run off, they are at risk for all sort of dangerous mishaps. There are countless dogs that end up in a shelter (or sometimes worse) across the country after nights of fireworks for this exact reason. So please keep your dog inside and safe. The next step you can take is to drown out the noise as much as possible. If your pets are home alone consider leaving a noise machine, a fan, or television on to cancel out some of the noise of the pyrotechnics.

Preparing for a New Baby

In the event of a new addition to the house, such as a squishy adorable little baby you will probably want more time to prepare, but there are some basic first steps to take to help diminish the stress levels as much as possible when the bundle of joy arrives. You can purchase a baby doll and pretend play for a few weeks setting clear boundaries for the pet. This is made more beneficial if you can incorporate some of the sounds and smells of a new baby. Allowing your pet to become slowly acclimated to the sights, sounds, and accessories that come with having a baby can certainly be less jarring than it all happening at once.

Other Stressful Scenarios

You can employ these calming tips for situations like a new (also loud) baby, a gardener working outside, or any other stressful event for your pets. With any stressful event, be sure that your pet has access to their favorite space in the house. Being able to retreat to their fluffy bed or lay on their favorite blanket can sometimes be all it takes to help them find their calm. There are also products on the market made specifically for anxiety in pets. One such product is the Thundershirt, a snug fitting “shirt” that applies gentle pressure to relax your pet. There are also supplements on the market that may be able to help naturally calm your pet in stressful situations.

The important thing to remember in situations like this is that you know your pet better than anyone. You know what they like and what scares them. If you foresee your pet becoming frightened in a situation, you can take steps to mitigate the stress. Sometimes this is as simple as being around to pet your pup in a thunderstorm. Sometimes that means securing your pet in a safe space so they cannot hurt themselves or others. Read the situation and take measures to prepare.

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