By Danny Rosenmund, Animal Handling Liaison
The arrival of summer welcomes sunny days and long walks. But, it also marks the return of loud noises like fireworks and thunderstorms. For our four-legged friends, these unexplained sounds can be scary and cause stress and anxiety. As a pet owner, seeing your animal in distress can cause you to worry – which can lead to an even more anxious pet.
So, how can we prepare for these stressful summer situations?
When loud noises are unavoidable–like a pop-up summer storm or a Fourth of July celebration–do your best to keep your pet indoors. Animals want to put distance between themselves and any loud noises that scare them, which means that their instinct may be to run if they are left outside. Animal shelters and rescue organizations receive an influx of admissions during the summer (particularly during the days following July 4) because so many pets are fleeing the loud booms and bright flashes of fireworks in the night sky. We always recommend keeping your pets inside and ensuring they are microchipped and wearing a collar with tags. It’s the best way to keep them safe and sound – especially during stressful situations like these. If you ever feel that your pet is putting themselves in danger, you should contact your veterinarian right away.
With your animal companion safely inside, do your best to make them as comfortable as possible. This could mean providing extra blankets, toys or some space to roam around. Allow your pet to choose the place where they feel the safest – and don’t be offended if it is not next to you! Although it may make you feel better, insisting that your pet cuddle with you can make them feel trapped and insecure. It is important to give our pets the freedom to choose where they want to go when they feel scared.
Games and enrichment activities are also useful in helping an anxious pet remain calm. When our pets engage in natural behaviors like chewing a bone or chasing a toy, it allows them to establish a positive association with the scary sounds. Still, it’s important to never force them to play with you–simply give them the option and allow them to choose!
Most importantly, keep yourself as calm and relaxed as possible. Cats, dogs and rabbits can read our moods and often mirror our emotions. If you are anxious, they will take that as a cue that they should be anxious, too. But, if you can stay calm, it can help to show your pet that there is nothing to fear.
Loud noises come in many forms during the warm months of summer. While thunderstorms, fireworks, construction equipment, lawnmowers and other sounds may not be a concern to us, they can be very intimidating to our pets. Keep an eye on your four-legged family members this summer and do your best to make them as comfortable as possible when summer sounds come knocking.