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Top 10 Ways to Keep Your Pet Safe During Fireworks


This time of year we get many requests for advice about how pet owners can help their pets feel less fearful when others are shooting off fireworks. In the Anchorage Bowl it’s illegal to use fireworks, but in other parts of the state it’s not. While social media and neighborhood chat platforms are filled with complaints from pet owners and veterans every July 4th and New Year’s Eve, it doesn’t stop the scofflaws for shooting off their bottle rockets. Pet owners must be proactive to keep their furry family members as safe and comfortable as possible. Here are 10 tried-and-true strategies that can help. 

 

  1. Get out of Dodge 

Many savvy pet owners have figured out that on July 4th, camping is not only a great summer activity, but it gets your pet out of the “fire zone.” State and federally-owned campgrounds don’t allow fireworks, so it’s the perfect place to relax and enjoy the holiday peacefully. Don’t have that option? Even just a long car ride out of the area can help; just remember to keep Fido in the car. 

  1. Celebrate one of the advantages of Alaska’s classic split-entry home 

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, Alaska has a HUGE proportion of split-entry homes, and many apartments built in this style. If you live in one, take advantage of the downstairs. Most split-entries have a portion of the home below grade and that can help buffer the noise of fireworks.  

  1. Buffer the noise 

Do what you can to reduce the noise exposure for your pet. Close the windows and close your drapes. If you have a fireplace check the damper, too, as sound can travel. Buffering isn’t perfect, but it can help. 

  1. The shower isn’t a bad place 

Before he lost his hearing one of my dogs always retreated to the shower during fireworks. It’s somewhere he felt safe from all the noise. Instead of fighting it I just moved his bed in there with some blankets. The key is to have safe places where your pet can seek refuge for the noise. Your cat may want to hide under the sofa or bed, so just let them. For dogs that are crate trained, the crate may be the safe place for them.  

  1. Talk to your vet 

Better living through chemistry isn’t just for humans. For some pets one of the sedating medications available by prescription from your veterinarian may be the best option. Be careful about dosing and timing. It takes a while for the effects to kick in. 

  1. Try an anxiety vest or wrap, either commercial or DIY   

You’ve all seen adverts for Thunder Shirts or have a friend who claims that it’s a miracle worker. There are many variations available at pet stores or online. Essentially, it swaddles your pet and provides the same sensory experience as a weighted blanket for humans. It works for some pets but not all. It’s worth a try. If you’re a DIY kind of person this link provides directions on how to make a simple anxiety wrap from a scarf. https://post.bark.co/health/diy-anxiety-wrap/  

  1. Tired pets are calm(er) pets 

Plan on getting your pup’s exercise in earlier than usual during a fireworks holiday, and perhaps a bit more strenuous. The temps are cooler locally, so this 4th of July holiday might be a perfect day to do a mountain hike or Coastal Trail excursion (remember your leashes!). Pair this strategy with Numbers 3, 4, and 6 and you just might have a winner. 

  1. Mask with other sounds 

There are claims that classical music can help calm nervous dogs. This holiday might be your opportunity to try that out. Rousing orchestral pieces can help cover up the sounds of the fireworks and may have a role in making your pet feel more comfortable. However, avoid Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, which is the one that includes cannon fire. 

  1. Keep your pet indoors while your neighbors are shooting them off 

I cannot emphasize this one enough. Your pet’s goal when confronted with blasts is to get as far away as possible, and that doesn’t always mean running back into your home. If you do have to take your dog outside, use a leash. Too many pets show up in shelters and on lost and found posters after fireworks events. Plan to keep yours indoors. 

  1. Distract them 

Fireworks are a good excuse to break out the high-value treat that makes your doggo go nuts. Kongs filled with doggy delectable things (peanut butter, canned food, etc.) they don’t get regularly can keep them too busy to pay attention to all the noise. 

 

Certainly these aren’t the only ways to keep your pet safe during fireworks. Add your favorite strategies in the comments section below.  

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