Independence Day is a time of celebration, but the Fourth of July firework displays can be extremely stressful for pets. The crackling booms in the sky make dogs and cats anxious and many will pace, whimper, hide or even become aggressive from the stress.
Here are six natural remedies to keep your pet calm on Independence Day:
1. Exercise Early
Activity is a great way to manage stress, as it reduces tension and pumps up endorphins (mood enhancers). Exercising your pet a few hours before the fireworks begin can help to settle them down at night. While the amount of exercise a dog needs will vary with age and breed, a brisk walk around the neighborhood will benefit most pooches. For added intensity, try active games like fetch, tug or Frisbee. Cats need exercise too, and interactive toys like “Da Bird” (feathers tied to a pole with string) can provide a nice workout. Most cats also love to pounce on toys filled with catnip or chase a laser light around the room.
2. Try a ThunderShirt
Based on the idea of swaddling an infant to provide comfort, the ThunderShirt is a unique fabric wrap that applies a gentle, constant pressure on a pet’s torso. Available in a variety of sizes for both dogs and cats, the ThunderShirt has been shown to reduce anxiety in approximately 80 percent of pets who wear it. You can find the product in most pet stores throughout the United States and Canada.
Pheromones are natural chemicals that animals secrete, that make them feel safe and relaxed. Comfort Zone with D.A.P. for dogs and Feliway for cats are products containing synthetic pheromones designed to mimic these soothing scents. Found in most pet supply stores as a spray, scented collar or a diffuser that can be plugged into a wall outlet, these synthetic pheromones are reported to be safe and have no effect on humans.
A national BARD research study showed that classical music with a slow tempo (50-60 beats per minute) and very simple arrangements, such as a solo piano piece, significantly lowered stress levels in animals. There are many CDs and downloadable music collections created specifically to relax pets, such as the “Through A Dog’s Ear” music series.
5. Herbs and Flower Essences
Many pet stores carry supplements containing herbs that reduce anxiety, such as Lavender, Valerian Root, Passion Flower and Chamomile. Flower essences are diluted extracts from plants thought to have calming properties. One of the more common brands, Rescue Remedy for Pets, is available at many pet and health food stores. A few drops can be added to the water bowl to help relax a nervous dog or cat, always be sure to check with your veterinarian before administering these remedies to ensure it’s okay for your individual pet.
6. Keep Yourself Calm
Animals pick up on our moods, so if you’re tense, your pet could be too. A recent behavioral study concluded that human emotions can be contagious to dogs, and a dog’s behavior could be influenced by their humans’ stress level. So if you stay cool, it will help relax your pet as well.
Lowering your pet’s stress level during the firework display will mean a happier and more peaceful holiday for you too!
Lead image source: Jen DeVere Warner/Flickr