Prepare for July 4th... Along with the fun and sun, the summer months also brings with them loud noises, such as fireworks and thunderstorms, which often trigger a fearful reaction in pets. Unfortunately, some pets express fear by being destructive, excessive barking, or other anxious behavior such as cowering, drooling, or shaking. To alleviate the stress, consider following these five tips...
Provide a Safe Spot
Whether it's a closet or a crate, it's good for dogs and cats to have a go-to place for relaxing or hiding away. A closet or crate, when your pet seeks out such a space, can provide a safe and secure feeling, much like a den. However, if a crate or closet creates more anxiety, it should not be used. Very often, a crate is more effective is your pet has grown up using a crate since they were young.
Never leave pets alone outdoors, even if tethered or in a fenced yard. Keep pets on leash or in a carrier if they must be outside. Dogs, especially, may escape and become lost or injure themselves chewing or choking on their leashes. Keep small pets indoors, preferably in a room without windows, and horses in their stalls. Keep I.D. tags current so the pet and owner can be reunited if loud noises cause it to run away.
Counteract the Noise
Distracting your pet with the TV, radio—classical music works well—or other "white noise" is will work to combat sounds of thunderstorms, fireworks and the like. Just make sure your alternative to the fearful sounds is not being played at a deafening decibel too. This may inadvertently add to your pet’s stress level.
There are some pets that are able to overcome their fears by listening to CDs or audio recordings of the loud noises during times of calm. Play it at a low volume while plying your dog or cat with positive stimuli, such as treats and affectionate petting. Slowly increase the volume over a period of weeks until it reaches the levels your pet would encounter in real life.
If things are becoming overwhelming, seek professional help. A veterinarian can advise about giving a mild sedative or tranquilizer to calm the fears of an over-stressed dog, cat or horse. There are also board certified veterinary behaviorists that are skilled in handling these types of situations. In the end veterinarians want the same thing you want — for your pet not to suffer.