The 4th of July can be a very stressful holiday for pets. In fact, according to Pet Amber Alert, there is a 30% increase in lost pets from July 4th through July 6th. Shelters believe the main contributors to this increase are fireworks and more outdoor, holiday-related events.
So, this 4th of July, enjoy your holiday, and follow some (or all) of these tips to keep your Chihuahua calm and safe:
1. Turn on the TV or radio before fireworks start:
One of our Chihuahuas gets extremely afraid of thunderstorms and fireworks. To help her stress less, if we could anticipate a storm or fireworks we would close all the blinds and turn on the TV or radio louder than normal. She was used to the sound of a TV or radio, and those “normal” sounds helped mask the sounds that made her nervous.
2. If you’re going out to celebrate, leave your Chihuahua home shut in a room or better yet, a crate:
It is not uncommon for dogs who have been fine in the past, to suddenly be afraid of fireworks. Or, maybe your absence or louder than normal fireworks will set him on edge. Don’t leave your Chihuahua with access to the backyard (such as with an open doggy-door) and don’t leave your Chihuahua outside. Remember, 1 in 3 pets become lost at some point in their lifetime (according to the American Humane Association). Don’t let that 1 be yours.
3. Give your Chihuahua something to keep him entertained:
A new or special chewie is great for thunderstorms and fireworks. We recommend stuffed marrow bones such as the Redbarn Filled Bone. We buy ours from the grocery store, and give the raw version, but if you are not comfortable with raw bones, the Redbarn bones are a great alternative. If you do not give bones to your dog, try a KONG Classic Dog Toy. Like marrow bones, they are easy to stuff with various yummy things to give to your Chihuahua to keep him busy. If you have a dehydrator, you can make your own Dehydrated Chicken Feet!
4. Tire your Chihuahua out before fireworks start:
Take your Chi for a walk. Play ball. Go swimming. This one is simple and fun for both of you and will help your Chihuahua be more relaxed before the festivities start. It is also an opportunity to get him to go potty before the noise starts so you can avoid being out during the main event.
5. If you are having guests over, set up an extra barricade for your Chihuahua’s safety:
Guests can forget to close doors and gates. Help everyone out by setting up an extra gate (such as an ex-pen) that keeps your Chihuahua from the front door or back gate. With a two-part entry-exit system, one gate is closed while the other is open thus minimizing the risk of your Chi getting out while a guest is entering or exiting.
6. Leave your Chihuahua home if you are going to see fireworks:
We know it is tempting to take them with you. We will easily tell friends that our dogs don’t have separation anxiety, but we do. BUT, between the loud fireworks, the unpredictable crowd, and even the temperatures this time of year, it is just not a good idea to take your Chihuahua to a firework display.
7. If you’re staying home, don’t set off your own fireworks with your Chihuahua around:
This one should go without explanation. Children and adults are injured from fireworks every year…and they know to stay away from them. Animal curiosity is a recipe for disaster around fireworks. Just don’t do it.
8. Consider trying natural calming aids:
We’ve heard a lot of people who have great success with Thundershirt Behavior Modification Shirt For Dogs. You can also try supplements such as Vetri-Science Composure Bite Sized Chews. We have tested this product ourselves, and you can find our review here.
9. Consult your veterinarian:
Many people will recommend against drugs, but if you have a very fearful dog, you may want to consult your veterinarian prior to the 4th in order to get the best recommendation for your dog. There are a variety of different calming options available and your veterinarian will best be able to recommend the safest option for your Chihuahua.
10. Make sure your Chihuahua is wearing a collar with tags and/or that you’ve checked their microchip:
This is just an extra safety precaution. Sometimes, even if you do everything right, the outcome is still not great. Just be smart: make sure your Chihuahua has current identification in case they get out.
What to do if you FIND a dog on the 4th of July
Don’t chase! Remember, this dog is probably very frightened right now. Bend down, use a calming voice, offer cookies if you have any. Sometimes simply opening a door (to a car or your home) can get a dog off the street as they are seeking shelter…just make sure your dogs/cats/other animals are put away since you do not know how a fearful dog may react.
Once the dog is secure, check for tags. If the dog has identification, call the owner now. Even if it is late, most owners will be worried about their missing dog and would rather hear from you now then continue worrying. If the dog does not have tags you will need to take them to a facility to scan for a microchip. Veterinarians, shelters, and most rescues offer this service free of charge. Since you will now be keeping the dog overnight, you may want to set up a room or crate for the dog to keep him safe the rest of the evening.