Although it’s a day of loud and joyful celebration for the human species, Independence Day is notoriously traumatizing for many pets.

“The Fourth of July is probably the hardest holiday for all the pets in the community,” says Devon Prendergast, Community Relations Coordinator at Valley Animal Center.

She says the noise and bright flashes from fireworks (both legal and illegal) are often terrifying, especially for dogs and cats.  “You definitely want to take as many precautions as you possibly can to make sure they feel safe and comfortable.”

Music Can Soothe the Beast

Prendergast recommends keeping pets inside the home in a secure environment and reducing their exposure to the holiday’s explosive sights and sounds.

“Make sure that you have some music playing or turn the TV volume up a little more. That’ll help drown out the firework noise and help to keep them calm,” she says.

Some pets may also benefit from a snug-fitting “ThunderShirt” or a similar garment that is intended to simulate a constant hug to help calm anxiety. The jury is out on whether these products are truly effective, but many pet owners are convinced they do the trick.

Also known as “calming coats” and “anxiety wraps,” they are available at local pet stores. You can also go the DIY route if preferred.

Remember that often dogs and cats will try to flee from fireworks. Prendergast says that pets that would not normally attempt to escape their home or yard may make a run for it.

“There are so many animals that tend to break out that don’t normally have those tendencies at home,” she says. A dog that is not normally a digger may burrow under a fence while another may find the agility to jump over a five-foot fence.”

Keep Information Up to Date

Should that happen, she says, up to date identification is the key to a happy reunion.

“Make sure they have their collars on and have an I.D. tag with your personal contact information,” Prendergast says. “That way, if they do get loose, you can be contacted.”

The very best method for pet identification, she emphasizes, is microchipping. But, she says it’s vital for owners to keep their pet’s microchip registration up to date.

“That tends to be one of the things that people forget when they move or change their phone number,” she says.

Focus on Positive Things

Pet owners who keep these cautionary tips in mind are much more likely to enjoy the holiday themselves. Pendergast says, like humans, pets need to feel safe and secure. Their favorite blanket, bed or toy can go a long way to soothe their fears, she says.

“Make sure that they have something to keep them distracted and keep them focused on the positive things,” she says. “Not the things that stress them out.”

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