July 4th fireworks are a fun family outing but can be a source of stress and anxiety for many pets. July 5th is one of the busiest intake days for animal shelters across the country due to runaway dogs and cats. Make July 4th a safe and stress-free holiday for you and your four-legged friends by checking out these tips:

Know the signs of pet anxiety

Not all pets are bothered by fireworks. Some will act normal during the big boom while others may panic and even hurt themselves trying to escape. Signs of anxiety and noise phobia may include panting, pacing, hiding, trembling, or attention-seeking behavior. Anxious pets may also drink more water, so be sure to have plenty available. It is not recommended to take your pets outside to watch fireworks, especially if you do not know how they will react.

Pet identification

In the event your cat or dog escapes, it is important that they wear an ID tag on their collar (breakaway collar for cats) or harness. This is the fastest and easiest way for you to be reunited with your pet. If your pet does not have an ID tag, then consider purchasing one before the July 4th holiday.

Strategies and medications for anxious pets

For many pets, staying in a crate or quiet room is all that is needed. Playing music can also distract from some of the outside noise. Other pets may need over-the-counter products or medication from the vet. Some helpful over-the-counter products for anxiety include Adaptil (for dogs) or Feliway (for cats), which are pheromone sprays and diffusers. Thundershirts and Anxiety Wraps may also be helpful in providing a calming effect.

It is much easier to prevent anxious behavior than to control it. We recommend starting anxiety medication before fireworks are expected to start. If your pet has a history of thunderstorm or firework anxiety, then contact us to discuss medication options to help manage stress. Mount Airy Veterinary Associates would love to help the entire family enjoy a stress-free holiday!

– Brianna Cormier, DVM