During the week of the Fourth of July the sky will reverberate with the bangs, pops and flashes that accompany the Fourth of July Celebrations. Humans may enjoy the revelry, but for some dogs -fireworks, like thunder storms, can cause a great deal of stress including:
- Violent shaking, trembling
- Excessive drooling
- Barking, howling
- Trying to hide or get into / out of the house, fence, or other enclosure
- Refusing to eat food
- Some animals may loose bladder or bowel control or experience temporary diarrhea from prolonged stress
So what can an owner do to protect their dogs from the stress associated with fireworks? Consider:
- Keeping pets indoors.
- Close the curtains or blinds and turn on the TV or radio to provide some distraction.
- A quiet place, such as a carrier or crate may provide your pet with a sense of security and comfort.
- Using a leash or carrier if you must be outside with your pet to keep her from running off which is a common response to stress and fear.
- Practicing fire safety. Keep pets away from matches, open fires, and fireworks – especially ones that are lighted on the ground. Pets may try to sniff (or eat) fireworks and pet hair can easily catch fire if too close to the fireworks.
- Taking pets for a walk before dark and the fireworks start. Some pets are too frightened to void once the fireworks begin, and this may lead to an “accident” later on.
- Making sure pet ID is current. Make sure that your pet has proper identification tags, with current information, in case she gets away. Micro-chipping is strongly recommended.
Some dogs do fine and don’t seem to notice the fireworks. But some pets cannot be calmed by petting or talking to them – they are simply too upset by the noise. Animals who are frightened/stressed can hurt themselves and possibly escape if left alone, and the results can be fatal. Frightened animals running loose are in great danger of being lost or, worse yet, hit by a car.
If nothing seems to work to calm your dog talk to your veterinarian about tranquilizers. They are not for every pet but they can help calm some who are overly stressed by loud noises.
Some dog owners have had success with behavior modification. This behavior modification should be done over a long period of time and not days or hours before the Fourth of July. This technique involves playing a recording of thunder at very low levels. Use the time to reassure your pet that everything is fine. Gradually increase the volume slowly over time, as your pet is able to handle the sounds without getting stressed.* Also this behavior modification should be done by professionals since doing this technique by yourself could cause more harm than good.
For more safety tips, vist July 4th and Inclement Weather Tips.