10 Steps to help care for your pets during fireworks

By PSU EcoMerge Capstone - 7:47 PM

1. Know when fireworks will be happening and how they'll impact your home. Contact your local municipality to find out when your area is likely to have fireworks. Mark the dates on a calendar so that you can keep track of when to ensure your pets are cared for. If you know or suspect that the fireworks will be heard at your house, take the precautions outlined in the following steps.

2. Desentisation of noises helps to prevent a phobia of loud noises, use a cd like Sounds Scary, well before the firework season, or after the event.

3. Prepare the house. The house becomes your pets' safety zone, so it's important to prepare it properly.

-Keep some lights on. Keeping a light on will calm your pet and make him feel more secure, rather than being scared in a dark room.
-Dampen the noise. Close the curtains in the room and, if your animal is a caged one, cover up the cage in a thick blanket, but make sure it is breathable so your animal doesn't suffocate. This will also help to stop the flashes of light affecting your pet.
-Plan to use familiar sounds to drown out the noise of the fireworks. Music from a stereo or turning on the TV are likely familiar sounds that can sooth your pet. Just make sure not to play these sounds ridiculously loud as they can become bothersome themselves.

4. Prepare the room. Select a suitable room where you will contain the pets for the duration of the fireworks. An inner room that is least impacted by the noise is ideal. It should be a room that you can close off to prevent your pet from running about the house and injuring itself, wrecking furniture, etc. If you have more than one pet, be sure they don't mind being confined in the same room, or select several rooms for different pets. For example, dogs and cats will usually appreciate being kept separate.

5. Prepare yourself. In the desire to ease our pet's pain, sometimes we can transfer some of our anxiety and upset to the pet. If you've prepared properly in advance, there is no need to feel upset and worried as you can be reassured about the safety of your pet.

6. Confine your pet. Half an hour to an hour before the fireworks are due to be set off, place your pet into the chosen room. If you're concerned about not being able to locate your pet (for example, cats aren't always easy to find), consider finding your pet several hours earlier. Mealtime is a good time to round up every pet, provided it falls before the fireworks are set off. If your dog needs a walk, be sure to walk her before confining her.
-Even if your pet is caged, place it into the secure and comfortable room you've selected.
-If your pet is a horse or other farm animal, make sure it has clean bedding and is inside the stable or barn.

7. Provide food and hydration. Be sure to leave sufficient water and food for your pet in the confinement space. Many pets will be uneasy, or even frantic. If your pet has access to water, it will help calm him, and food supplied in your pet's regular portion will make him feel like it's a normal day.

8. Keep an eye on your pet, and if possible, stay with her. Comfort her and talk to her. Be friendly but don't fuss over her too much; this can increase her anxiety if she picks up on yours and can reward and encourage fearful behavior.[4] If it's not possible to stay with her, (perhaps because you're out or busy (you may be at the firework display), don't worry - the previous steps should ensure that your pet has been adequately cared for.

9. Check on your pet after the fireworks. Reassure him and remove the protection (blankets, etc.) as long as you're sure that the loud fireworks are over. Let him have free run of the house to see how he behaves before considering letting him return outside (it might be best to wait until morning, if possible). Check for signs of stress in your pet:

-For cats, signs of stress include running away, soiling the house, hiding away and refusing to eat.
-For dogs, signs of stress include barking a lot, running away, soiling the house, hiding and cowering, clinging to owners, whimpering, trembling and shaking, pacing and panting, and refusing to eat.
-If your pet is stressed, keep him indoors overnight. Keep a litter tray somewhere in the house, or walk a dog after the fireworks but don't let him off his harness and be sure to stay with him the whole time.

10. Do a yard sweep before letting your pets back outside. Collect any sparklers, firecrackers, etc., as well as party items and broken objects. This will prevent your pet from being injured by unfamiliar objects.

by Abhi Batra

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