The Fourth of July is a festive day to celebrate our nation with a bang. But while we're grilling with friends, our dog's fear of fireworks may have him cowering in the corner. Why do pets fear fireworks? It's instinct for dogs, cats, and many animals to fear sudden, loud noises. Just as when we hear a loud, unexpected thunderclap, fireworks trigger an animal's nervous system and put him on high alert. So how can we soothe our dog or cat's fear of fireworks? These are some quick tips to help your fur child keep his cool through the noise: 1. Keep Him Company: If plans allow, be with your dog or cat at home during times fireworks could occur. Having their human nearby and calm helps reassure a pet that he has no reason to fear. 2. Play it Cool: Pets can sense our anxiety, so don't flinch and coddle him excessively every time a firecracker pops--this will reinforce his anxiety. Act as you normally would on an evening home and try to distract him with playtime or tasty toys. 3. Provide a Happy Place: Sometimes, a pet is too nervous to console and would rather retreat to a small space--especially cats. This is just fine. If your pet has a kennel or particular bed that he likes to seek shelter under, have it available for him to do so. Absolutely do not try to pull your pet closer to the sound in effort to acclimate him. This will only terrorize him further, and cause him to get aggressive if pushed too far. Hercules happily demonstrates the Thundershirt. 4. 'Swaddle' Him: If your pup is particularly nervous, investigate purchasing a Zen Dog Compression Shirt. A compression shirt has a similar effect on dogs as does swaddling on infants: the gentle hugging has a calming effect on the nervous system. This is great for fireworks, thunderstorms, or any other anxiety-inducing situations. (Note: Zen Dog Compression Shirts are available at all Tomlinson's stores--call your location for colors and sizes.) 5. Check ID and Fences: Fear can turn some dogs into escape artists. Double check that your dog is fitted with a snug collar, up-to-date ID and rabies tags, and that your fences are fully secure. Consider having your dog or cat 'microchipped' so that animal shelters can easily ID him and his humans, even if he does slip out of his collar. And what if you won't be home with your pet on July 4th? If your pup fears fireworks and is prone to escape, don't risk it: ask a pet-loving friend who plans to be home if she can pet-sit, or seek out a professional boarding facility for the evening. You don't want to spend July 5th calling frantically to local shelters, or worse, risk your pet injuring himself trying to escape. Have additional tips or stories to share? Tell us in the comments or on Facebook. Oh, and Happy New Year!
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