Ten Tips for providing a safe July 4th for your porcine household:
1. Make sure your pig gets out and gets plenty of exercise earlier in the day. (Before fireworks typically occur in your area) During this time it is important that you keep your pig hydrated since it is typically hot weather during this holiday. Good hydration and meals during the day can help your piggy sleep better that night when fireworks typically take place. (Do NOT overfeed during hot weather though, the body produces heat as digestion takes place and it is miserable when the belly is full on hot days if your pig stays outside during most days)
2. Keep your pig(s) inside during fireworks, preferably with human companionship. If it’s hot, air conditioning will help.
3. Provide a safe place inside for your pig to retreat. When scared of sounds they can’t orient, and that group of pigs often prefers small-enclosed areas. Most pigs have a favorite spot, but if this spot isn't really ideal because of the noise, take your pigs' favorite bed and blankets to a more soundproof room/area in your home. This is their "safe space".
4. If possible, keep the windows and curtains closed.
5. Make sure all your pigs are wearing ID tags with a properly fitting harness. (Panicked pigs have been known to become Houdini around the 4th of July.) Make sure you know where your pig is at ALL times! And be sure to fix any fencing issues that may allow for your pig to get out. Scared pigs will run, it doesn't necessarily mean they'll run in the house, they're just trying to get away from the loud noises.
This is also the day of the year where the most pets go missing, presumably running away because of fright.
6. Leave your pig something fun to do – like a frozen Kong filled with his favorite treats or a busy ball and fill with treats. Treat puzzles can keep your pig occupied as well. If you won't be home, leave a TV on for them to try and drown out some of the sounds from the events that may be taking place near you.
7. Encourage your pig to play, and play with him/her, but don’t allow them to collapse into your arms at the first bang or whistle. Many pigs want to do just that, as their fear overcomes their play drive. Diversion therapy can be extremely useful in situations like this. The sudden loud noises can be terrifying even for an older pig, so your pig may bark like a dog; this is a sign of fright. Your pig feels safe with you and if your pig runs to you for protection, reassure them that everything is ok and provide support to calm them. In the area where I live, fireworks are illegal, but that doesn't stop the ignorant neighbors and people in the surrounding communities to light some off themselves. The BIG firework display happens miles away, but can still be heard at my house. I try to comfort my pig because I know she's scared and although I know she is in no danger, she doesn't understand that.
8. Sound Therapy: Play music to calm your porcine companion. It is most effective when you first play the music well before the fireworks start; at a time the pig is already peaceful and relaxed. He will begin to associate the music with being calm and content. Then play the music a couple of hours before the fireworks start and continue to play through bedtime. The music doesn’t need to be loud to be effective, as it has been clinically demonstrated to calm the nervous system in animals.
9. If you have pigs that are not exhibiting fear, play with them. This will often distract the fearful pig as he/she is always vying for your attention.
10. Get away from the fireworks. Take your pig to a quiet place, perhaps in the country, and stay with a sympathetic friend or family member.
At the risk of repeating myself I most emphatically recommend, as in tip #5, you make certain your pig is harnessed, tagged, and micro-chipped because some will try to run away from the horror that is taking place around them. Having identification like a tag with your contact information attached to your pigs harness can help your pig get home quickly should he/she run away. If animal control happens to find your scared pig, if there is a micro-chip (that is up to date with your contact info), it will be a lot easier to get your piggy back home.
Our names are Brittany Sawyer and Nicole Cox and we are pig parents, pig advocates and also the authors of the "Dear Pig Whisperer" blog. Follow our blog that will feature topics to help you become the best pig parent you can be...along with some other fun things. We will also feature guest bloggers from time to time who want to share their life experience or knowledge with anyone who is interested in learning.