It is instinctive in animals to seek immediate shelter when they hear thunder or loud noises. If frightened, your cat will run for cover under the bed, into the closet, or to the top of a tree (be careful that you’re not the tree).
On the other hand, your dog can become extremely destructive in his attempts to reach a safe haven. He might scratch at, chew through, or jump over or through barriers to reach a place of refuge. I’ve seen dogs that have chewed off door jambs, bloodied their paws scratching through a door, and cut themselves badly jumping through a window.
It’s a pitiful sight to behold — your beloved pet so petrified that they hurt themselves, perhaps seriously, because of the intense fear of loud noises.
Your best action this July 4 is to minimize your pet’s exposure to fireworks. Keep them indoors in an interior, windowless room. Muffle the sounds by playing your stereo loudly, creating white noise. Plan on being with your pet; your presence is probably their best security blanket.
If your pet shows signs of stress, give them their favorite treats and toys so that they’ll have a positive association with the loud noise.
However, as much as you may want to, do not coddle your pet. Such behavior only reinforces that something is wrong. Play with them and reward them — after all, you’re trying to convince then that loud noses make good things happen.
Seeing your veterinarian for short- or long-term medications may be necessary for moderate to severe cases of noise anxiety.