How to Help Your Dog Through Fireworks Season

It’s here! Fireworks season is, for some, a great time to enjoy the beautiful explosions of light and sound high overhead.  But many dogs don’t get as excited about fireworks as their humans. Many are actually terrified of them. (Of course, the same is true of many people!)  For many pet lovers, this loud, colorful season of celebration is actually a stressful time. It doesn’t have to be that way for you or your beloved pet.

Why does your dog shake, hide, bark, maybe urinate or even run away during these festivities?

A study by the School of Veterinary Sciences at the University of Bristol found that there are multiple signs of fear or anxiety in animals that are underreported. Many of us identify the normal signs such as shaking, trembling, seeking human comfort, or barking, because those are what we tend to do when dealing with fear – except maybe for barking.

The research found that “Other behavioral signs, such as decreased activity or salivation, may not be as easily recognized by owners as signs of fear, and may be under-reported. Also, signs of urination, salivation and destruction may make pet parents disappointed or angry, and this may influence their interpretation that such behaviors are associated with fearfulness.”

The study concluded that a dog’s early life experiences greatly influence this behavior. “Our results suggest that the characteristics of dogs, their early environment, and exposure to specific loud noises are involved in the development of fear responses to noises.”  A full 45% of dogs struggle with firework induced anxiety. An additional outcome of the study showed that less than a third of dog owners sought advice from a veterinary professional on how to best help their furry friend cope with all of these environmental situations.

Reduce some of that anxiety by understanding some causes of these reactions and offer some ways that you can help keep your four-legged friends feeling safe during the upcoming holiday season.

We’ve included several tips on how to help your dog manage these triggers. Remember, you should always seek the help of your vet in how best to manage the anxiety that your pet may be dealing with. 

1. Take your dog for a walk.

Getting your dog out for some exercise before the fireworks start can help put them in a calmer state when the show starts. Additionally, getting your dog to run around or chase a ball can help them naturally use up some energy to ease their nerves for the evening show. You may even consider doing this multiple times throughout the day until the display begins. The more energy they burn ahead of time, the less they have to expend when they get stressed.

2. Create a safe space.

If you know your pet is likely to experience anxiety due to fireworks, try creating a safe space for them where they can be comfortable. Make sure their favorite toys and pillows are close by during the fireworks. Having familiar comforts will help them with coping when the fireworks kick off and their anxiety is triggered.  Think of it like you’re creating a den for your dog. You can also add a dog appeasing pheromone into the environment, which has been shown to have a calming effect on your dog.

3. Pet and cuddle them.

Providing comfort to your pet by petting and holding them will remind your animal that they are safe in your caring arms. Comforting by physical touch will soothe your pet just as they do for you in your moments of stress.

4. Try CBD or hemp chews.

CBD or hemp can be calming for both people and animals. Pet stores now carry a variety of hemp-based options for dogs which may help your pet to feel calm for the fireworks and significantly reduce their reaction to show time. 

5. Use a compression hoodie.

Try reducing the noise level for your pet. A compression hoodie wraps around your pet’s ears to help ease firework anxiety through sensory deprivation. The hoodie will help function as a “noise cancelling headset” for your pet so that they do not encounter the fireworks as dramatically and everyone can enjoy the evening more.

6. Try a weighted vest.

A weighted vest provides a swaddled effect on your pet much like when swaddling a baby. This will help your dog feel safe and secure when the noise comes. There are many versions of these available on the market, so do your research before purchasing one for your dog. Some are geared towards helping a dog be healthier and more fit and do more than just provide comfort. There are some that are waterproof and meant for recreational purposes, and there are sizes and colors for every dog out there. Bonus: this can also be helpful if your dog experiences anxiety during thunderstorms.

7. Reduce the noise.

Try to reduce the sound of the fireworks for your pet as much as possible by closing windows and curtains and playing music or utilizing a white noise machine. Doing so will reduce the impact of the noise for your pet, making the experience altogether less alarming.

8. Talk to your vet.

Ask your pet’s vet about medication options to help ease your dog’s anxiety. Vets will often provide a mild sedative to help your dog relax and stay calm during a fireworks show. Be sure to have an informed, thorough conversation with your veterinarian on this topic. You don’t want your dog to become dependent on medication and a behavioral modification plan should be part of any treatment. Some sedatives act as a numbing effect and don’t actually calm the dog’s fears; they simply don’t let them respond, which isn’t what you want for your pet. A good sedative would allow your dog to experience the fireworks while reducing their fear.

This list is not exhaustive! There are many options available to you to ease your pet’s nerves during this loud season of celebration. Discuss further options with your vet on how to best help your best friend deal with the fireworks. If your pet struggles with high anxiety during fireworks season, be sure to be prepared in advance with the tips listed above.

You’ll additionally want to be sure your dog is fully vaccinated and wearing proper ID in case they run off: this way they can get home safely and be protected from other run-ins with animal friends. By taking these measures to ensure the comfort and security of your pet, you will be able to enjoy the colorful displays of fireworks knowing your animal is properly equipped to face the fanfare. By ensuring that your dog also enjoys them, you can both have a great summer of having fun!

Keep Your Indoor Cat Entertained (When You’re Busy)

We love having quality time with our furry felines, but sometimes they demand our attention at times when we need to focus on other things. To help maintain your cat’s happiness and your own productivity, we came up with 10 ideas you can use to keep your indoor cat entertained while you’re busy working, cleaning, food shopping, socializing, or otherwise living your life (we know – cats don’t understand any of that!).. Entertaining your cat is about more than fun and exercise. We all know our cats have an intelligence that leaves us in awe and a curiosity that leaves us in stitches. All of those aspects of your cat need stimulation! Read on to see how you can give your cat new ways of being entertained all day and every day..

1. Automated Toys:

Cats love to play by chasing and catching things. Try entertaining your cat with a toy they can chase around like a battery operated toy mouse. Your cat will become so enthralled with chasing it around, that you’ll even have fun watching! And who knows – if you ever have a mouse problem in your home, the training may have come in handy!

2. Window Seat:

Cats are people (but really animal) watchers! Having a window seat is a great, simple way to keep your cat entertained.  On top of a premium spot to watch what’s going on outside, it provides a nice perch for them to sunbathe.

3. Bird Feeder to Watch:

This is a great accompaniment to the window seat! Place a bird feeder outside within view of the window, and your cat will spend seemingly endless amounts of time bird watching…you may even notice their mouth water!

4. Cat Tree:

There are many benefits to having a cat tree. The size of the cat tree is really up to you, but the more cats you have the more tiers you may want to consider. Felines have a hierarchy and they will demonstrate that by where they place themselves on the tree. The higher up the tree, the higher up the cat is on your home’s pecking order. Another great benefit of  a cat tree is that they occupy normally small footprints in your home layout but meet a lot of needs of your furry friends:  exercise, isolation when needed, and a multi-level hideaway for multiple cats.

5. Another Cat:

You have one, why not get another? Ok, there may be some valid reasons you wouldn’t want to, but there are a lot of benefits to having a friend for your cat to keep them company when you’re unable to. There are several things to keep in mind though before introducing your cat to another feline. 

  • Temperament is everything. Before introducing a cat permanently into your home you may want to see if a friend has one that they would let your cat meet first and gauge how that goes. Once you decide you are going to make the move of adding another cat, be aware of how you do that. 
  • Don’t just bring the new cat in and take them to each other. That first interaction will set the tone, and if it seems aggressive to your first cat it will take time to overcome that. 
  • Bring the new cat into a separate room with a door that separates them. This will allow them to catch the scent of each other without feeling threatened. Do that for a day or two and then slowly bring them together. This will make it less threatening and they will have already developed a curiosity about the new creature behind the door. 
  • Keep in mind that you may want to get your cat spayed or neutered first!

6. Hiding Spaces:

Cats love to hide in small, quiet spaces! Whether it’s a cat house, a closet, or a paper bag, cats love to find places to retreat to. Try setting up some special hiding nooks for your cat to curl up in for some quiet nap time!  

7. Food Puzzle:

Food puzzles are a great way to keep your cat active and happy! If you’ve never seen or used one, they are toys designed to encourage your cat’s natural foraging desires. They solve a simple puzzle and receive a reward in the form of a meal. Research by the University of California-Davis shows that these games can improve your feline’s overall health and stimulate them mentally. In fact, up to one-third of cat parents use them!

8. Scratching Post:

Cats LOVE to scratch! Getting them a scratching post will not only keep them busy, it’ll save your favorite pieces of furniture too! The best way to keep your furniture intact is to make sure that your cats have a fun alternative that happens to provide a lot of benefits to their health. Scratching posts do more than protect furniture; they help with shedding of loose layers on the claws, help your cat stretch, exercise, and reduce stress. Getting a cat to use the post can be a challenge at first. You can get them to start by using catnip and treats to encourage them andalso by playing with them around the posts with wand-type cat toys.

9. Games on Tablets: “Games for Cats” app and “Laser Pointer” app:

Yep! Now there are games for cats that you can set up for them on your tablet! These games engage cats by enticing them to chase a fish or a laser on the screen. Similar to the automated toys, these games appeal to the cat’s instinct to chase and hunt! And if we are being honest, it’s a lot of fun for we humans to watch! Be careful letting them use your devices so they don’t get damaged. 

Simply go to your device’s app store and search “apps for cats” and prepare to be amused and amazed! (Remember they are for the cats, so if your friends catch you playing them, just tell them you’re trying to beat your cat’s high score.)

10. Catnip-infused paper bags:

This is not a drill! Catnip-infused paper bags are a thing! They can be found at many retailers and they provide lots of fun for your furry friends. We’ve all seen a cat hide in a paper bag or cardboard box waiting to paw at an unsuspecting passerby. These bags take that to another level as they can’t get enough of them and will spend hours being the cutest item you’ve ever seen in a paper bag.

Nothing beats quality time with our beloved felines, but it’s nice to know there are a variety of ways we can keep them busy while we’re missing snuggle time with them. Let us know which are your cat’s favorites!

9 Memes ESA Owners Can Relate To

Or as we are calling it: dog memes for the rest of us. There is no shortage of animal memes all over the internet. But what about those loving emotional support dogs who support us every day? They deserve a special place in the memedom of the internet. We found 9 totally relatable memes to capture those special moments with your ESA.

1. One thing at a time, Human!

“She said what??? Omg, SO cringey” Talk about empathy! You can (and do!)  tell your ESA everything. Now that’s a loyal friend!

2. WHAT IS THAT?!

Every time you give your dog a treat, it’s like they’re getting one for the first time. The awe, the wonder! That crinkle of the snack bag, the rustle of the box…  “What is that?!?” We go through this every day, Fluffy.

3. Oops, I did it again!

Cue the Brittney Spears because you just stepped on it…again. That’s ok – we all need some playtime!

4. Good morning, Human! Breakfast?

What better way to wake up?? That grinning morning face makes it a little easier to get your feet on the floor and start your day. That morning breath though! “We are talking to you, Human!”

5. Man Dog, Dog Man?

We love our ESA’s as much as the next person…. ok well, maybe not as much as THIS guy. Whose idea was this? We’re thinking the dog lost a bet.

6. Find your bliss, Linda. We’re here for you!

Can you have too much of a good thing? When it comes to emotional support dogs, definitely not.

7. Let a sleeping dog lie.

This guy supports your need to nap. What a pal. Climb in, cuddle up, and get some Zzzzs…. If you can get your pillow back.

8. Thera-pupist

We’d pay more than a dollar for this cutie’s advice! These should be set up everywhere in the world. Best therapist ever!

9. Work it!

Looks like your ESA got ahold of your phone for some selfie time! Keep trying! Every dog picture is a good dog picture.

We love our therapeutic puppy friends and can never get enough of their antics! No matter how goofy, silly, or technologically challenged they are, they’re the best at making us feel loved and supported. And while they make some adorable memes, they are even better friends!