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Holiday Pet Tips: Keeping Pets Calm This 4th of July

Prepped for the 4th of July? While we humans often thrive on the thrill of the festivities, our pets may have a different perspective. Even minor disruptions in their routine can escalate their stress levels.

Don't fret; there are strategies you can adopt to prevent your furry friend from becoming overwhelmed and enable both of you to enjoy the celebrations together.

Holiday Decorations Can Be Dangerous

Excited to pull out the sparklers and kick off your Independence Day celebrations? No doubt, your pet may also be drawn to the lively colors and unusual items. However, it's important to remember that decorations and festivities can be potential hazards to pets, so exercise caution during your setup.

Let's explore various types of 4th of July decorations that could present risks to your pet during.

Stars, Stripes, and Sounds

As we set the scene for our Independence Day festivities, what could be better than to string up festive red, white, and blue banners, add twinkling fairy lights to your backyard, and indulge in summer's delightful smells of barbecued food? However, let's not forget these seemingly innocuous festive details can sometimes be hazardous to our beloved pets.

Fireworks

Festive occasions can be overstimulating for everyone involved. Just when your pet may believe the excitement has wound down as guests start to disperse or move outdoors, the sudden barrage of sounds ensues. What are these noises? Fireworks.

Loud and unexpected noises can be alarming to some pets. If your pet tends to get startled or stressed easily, consider these measures to comfort them and ensure they feel safe:

  • Plan a long, calming walk before dus. Depending on the direction of the fireworks, you might be able to dodge the loud noises while keeping your pet focused on physical activity.
  • Desensitize your pet to the sounds of fireworks. Although this strategy requires a bit of training, start by playing the noises softly and gradually increase the volume over time to help them understand they are safe.
  • Offer a retreat, such as a sturdy crate or a quiet corner, for your pet to withdraw to when they feel overwhelmed. Dogs are den animals and prefer a cozy “cave” to retreat to, preferably away from windows.
  • Utilize noise-cancelling strategies, such as a fan, air conditioning, or a white noise machine. Calming music or a show on television may also help distract them from the loud sounds.
  • In more severe cases of stress, consider discussing with your veterinarian. They can suggest calming oils that are safe for your pet, and potentially recommend certain medications to help soothe them.

Grills and Barbecues

Ensure that your grill is out of your pet's reach, or as an alternative, use a safety gate around the grill area. Open flames are not only dangerous for your pet, but they could also cause a fire hazard if left unattended.

Like grills, avoid leaving out food items that your pet may attempt to consume. Certain foods common in barbecues, like onions or chocolate, can be harmful or even toxic to pets.

Lights

Lights are fun and frustrating at the same time, especially when they get twisted and tangled. Pets are attracted to them too. They are quick to gnaw on the wire, creating short-circuits.

Since this is an electrical cord, the wire can shock your pet or lead to death. On a positive note, you can easily purchase PVC piping or cord protectors. These keep your pet safe and reduce the frustration you may have of lights not working.

Flowers and Plants

Certain seasonal plants can be toxic to pets if ingested. Common plants used in 4th of July decorations that you should avoid include lilies, azaleas, and rhododendrons.

The alternative? Consider artificial flowers and plants.

Remember, sometimes your presence is the most reassuring thing to your pet. During these celebrations, stay close to your pet and empathize with their anxiety. After all, you're their best friend.

Pets' Responses to Guests

The summer is often a time for gathering with friends and family. Do you anticipate a steady stream of guests, or are you hosting a backyard barbecue? While you may be ready to welcome guests into your home, have you considered your pet's comfort with unfamiliar faces?

Pets react to stress and anxiety in a variety of ways, ranging from shyness to aggression. Fortunately, there are strategies to help mitigate these stresses.

A Peaceful, Quiet Retreat

Consider establishing a tranquil area where your pet can retreat from the festivities. This space should be set away from high-traffic areas and filled with comforting items. Equip the area with your pet's food and water dishes, favorite toys, and most importantly, a comfy spot for relaxation and napping.

Interactive toys like puzzle toys, treat-stuffed playthings, or calming training aids like our Groov Enrichment Tool with Treat Spreads are excellent choices. These items can keep your furry friend engaged within their peaceful sanctuary.

Socialization Training

Alternatively, you might consider socializing your pet to help them adjust to the presence of new people. This is especially helpful if your home frequently hosts guests.

Socialization training can be done at home, with a treat your pet loves serving as the motivational tool.

Begin with just one unfamiliar person. Have this individual greet your pet and offer them the treat. Over time, your pet will learn to associate these unfamiliar faces with positive reinforcement, leading to improved behavior around guests. Gradually, you can increase the number of unknown individuals your pet is introduced to in your hom

What's on the Grill?

Independence Day barbecues are synonymous with a variety of grilled delicacies and homemade dishes. But remember, not everything that's tasty for humans is safe for our pets.

Food safety is crucial all year round, especially when it comes to our four-legged friends. There are certain foods that can pose a serious risk to your pet's health.

Here are a few items commonly found at summer gatherings that should be kept away from your pets:

  • Chocolate is a beloved treat, but it is highly toxic to both dogs and cats. The degree of toxicity depends on the type of chocolate and the quantity ingested.
  • Baked goods and sweets made with xylitol are harmful and should be strictly avoided. Other artificial sweeteners like stevia or erythritol may not result in severe side effects, but it's best to keep these away from your pet as well.
  • Grilled meats, particularly fatty ones like burgers or sausages, can pose a risk. While plain meat is generally safe, meats cooked with seasonings or sauces can be problematic. The high fat content in some meats can lead to pancreatitis, and certain seasonings like onions and garlic are toxic to dogs.

If you've got a spot at the table reserved for your pet, ensure their meal includes ingredients that are safe for them or are specially formulated for their diet. And, if you're serving alcoholic beverages, be sure they're placed out of your pet's reach.

Safe Travel

Are you planning to hit the road for the 4th of July celebrations? Travel, no matter how it's undertaken, can be a significant disruption to your pet's routine and might trigger additional stress.

If you're considering bringing your pet along for the journey, proper preparation is crucial. Select the most appropriate mode of transport and arrange all necessary logistics well in advance. Pack essential items for your pet including food, water, and their favorite toys. If you're road-tripping, plan ahead for bathroom breaks to maintain your pet's comfort and hygiene.

Ensure your pet's safety during travel by keeping a close eye on their whereabouts. This might mean having them leashed or nestled securely in a travel carrier. It's also important to double-check that their collar and identification tags are secure, as a precautionary measure in the event you become separated.

The Bottom Line

You may be excited to kick off the holidays, but your pet may think differently. Keep your home safe, comfortable, and stress-free for your pet by taking precautions. Stick to the normal routine as much as possible to prevent your pet from becoming stressed.

If you are considering adding a new furry friend to your home, during the holidays is not the best time. Prepare and plan ahead whether you are traveling with your pet or expecting visitors at your home. Unplug decorations and blow out candles. Only then can you keep your pet calm and enjoy the magic of the holidays.

Diggs provides portable, ergonomic options for your pet to retreat to during the holiday season. Click here to see our full catalog of stylish, functional pet products to help you introduce luxury and comfort to your home for both you and your pets.

Sources:

6 Ways to Make the Holidays Less Stressful for Dogs | AKC

Tips for reducing your pet's stress during the holidays | UGA

Keep Your Dogs and Cats Safe From Holiday Hazards | FDA

Holiday Safety Tips | ASPCA

Winter holiday pet safety | AVMA

Keep Your Pets Calm During the Holiday Season with These Tips | Corydon Animal Hospital

How to Keep Your Dog Calm During Fireworks | American Kennel Club

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