Using fireworks is something we constantly revel in at any season. You may ask why? The reason is, they form a key aspect of celebrations such as the 4th of July, Bonfire Night, New Year’s Eve and many others. It’s always a pleasure to watch the night sky explode into vibrant light showers. Nevertheless, the booming sounds and dazzling lights often instill fear in dogs, leaving them panicked and agitated by the explosions. This can make it an anxious period for them. Hence, it’s your responsibility as a pet owner to monitor and mitigate your animal’s fright aroused by fireworks.
Learn more about fireworks and dogs and why they are afraid of them in this article. Let’s indulge one at a time.
Topics for Fireworks Anxiety in Dogs
Here’s a quick list of what you will be learning from this post:
- Why Dogs Fear Fireworks
- Signs and Manifestations of Dogs Having Fireworks Anxiety
- How to Prepare Dogs for Fireworks
- What to Give Dogs for Their Fireworks Anxiety
- How to Keep Your Pet Safe During the 4th of July
Why Dogs Fear Fireworks
Dogs are afraid of fireworks because of the flashing lights, unpleasant powerful smell, and loud bangs. They rarely can identify where the explosions come from because of the multiple cracks. Age, sex, and breed influence noise aversion. Their genetic makeup can control their reaction to loud sounds.
Naturally, dogs seem to be afraid of fireworks’ loud sounds although some are unlikely fazed by them. Anxiety and fear are their natural reactions to anything they may consider a threat to their survival. This is mainly because they lack understanding of where the booming sounds come from.
There are dogs that get terrified of fireworks that they run off. Thousands of them need medication for anxiety and stress attacks every year. The worst-case scenario? Many of them get involved in road accidents for being spooked by the loud bangs. Contact your vet immediately if your afraid furry friend hurts himself.
Signs and Manifestations of Dogs Having Fireworks Anxiety
There are many signs showing the fear of your pooch from fireworks. You may find him panting heavily, pacing up and down, and shaking. His barking is beyond normal. Sometimes he hides, drools, or trembles in a corner. He is distressed as he unexpectedly does soil and becomes destructive. These signs don’t seem to be normal anymore. You should not take them lightly as it is your responsibility to take care of his overall health and well-being.
Don’t take it to mean that dogs that aren’t whimpering or shaking are not distressed. These canines may only express their stress differently. Some of these signs of sickness are:
- Ears back
- Brow furrowed
- Lip licking
- Wide eyes
Preparing Dogs for Fireworks
“Prevention is always better than cure,” as an old adage says. However, there are instances and circumstances when fireworks exposure is inevitable. Help your dog prepare himself for the unwanted bangs and noise. So, before the fireworks display even starts,
- Feed him a sumptuous meal before it gets noisy.
- Take him for a walk and make certain to keep him on a lead all the time.
- Get him used to loud noises
- Make sure he wears a collar and tag or that he is micro-chipped.
- See that he wears an ID so they could return him in case he runs off.
- Create a safe hiding place for him.
What to Give Dogs for Their Fireworks Anxiety
Help calm your dog in some effective ways. Try the following means to get him through the fireworks extravaganza.
1. Do Some Research
Since fireworks can happen anywhere, anytime, your dog may not skip the noise. It is advisable to do your research. Find out when and where the fireworks display is going to happen. This will let you know when to expect the fireworks. Ask neighbors for their plan of unofficial fireworks displays. Of course, this would be of great help for your preparation.
2. Don’t Let Your Dog Go Outdoors During the Fireworks
Keep your dog inside when the booming and bangs are ongoing outside. Tire him out before nightfall, then take him out for toilet walks after the fireworks. You may gradually introduce him to the changes for several days before disrupting his routine.
3. Mask the Noise by Keeping a TV or Radio On
Music with h4 bass would help mask the bangs when played at a volume favorable to him. This reduces the impact of the noise and calms him down.
4. Create a Safe Haven Inside the House
Make him a great retreat bunk using a table draped with a blanket. You may also put him inside a crate and cover it, but leave it open while having blankets inside. Never lock him in so he does not become more stressed.
5. Stay Calm During Fireworks Display to Help Decrease Your Dog’s Anxiety
Your unusual behavior may affect his reaction. Being overly affectionate or following him around may only make him feel confused or nervous. Reassure him by playing with his favorite toy but behave normally as much as possible.
6. Cover the Windows or Draw the Curtains to Lessen Fireworks’ Lights
The flashes and lights, as well as the sound of fireworks, can cause distress for dogs. Leave indoor lights on to minimize the impact of the flashes. Taking him down to your basement to lessen the noise is a great idea ,too. You may also throw in some laundry and put on some music to drown out the noise from fireworks.
7. Give Your Dog a Long-Lasting Chew or Tasty Toys for Distraction
Give your pooch something better to do so he won’t worry. Provide a chew toy that lasts long enough to keep him calm. Stuff a puzzle toy with layers of food to keep him occupied. Try offering him a dog puzzle toy or filling a Kong with wet food then freeze it. He will be spending the next hours licking away at it.
8. Microchip Your Pet and Update His Microchip Details
A dog may run away while fireworks are ongoing and may get lost. Make sure he is micro-chipped, and details are up to date. This will help him reunite with you. This is actually a legal requirement.
9. Use a Thunder shirt (Wraparound Vest)
Several dog owners believe in the effectiveness of the Thunder shirt as it quickly calms their pets through gentle pressure. You can grab this wraparound in stores or make your own for your dog using an ace bandage or scarf.
10. Never Confine a Dog to a Room to Avoid Self-Destruction
Allow your dog access to all the safe areas of the house. He may just be comfortable curling up with you. Confining them in a certain spot may make him try to hurt himself.
11. Make Your Home and Garden Escape-Proof
Close all windows and doors firmly. See that he does not have access to any door leading outside. You need to secure escape routes and ensure that everyone knows the necessity of quickly opening and closing the external doors.
12. Desensitize Your Pet
13. Consult the Vet for Proper Medication
You may consult his vet to get better (if not the best) medication. This will help mitigate the anxiety of your dog. A medical treatment must go along with a behavior management plan.
14. Seek Help from a Behaviorist
If none of the measures above work, speaking to a dog’s behaviorist near your area is highly recommendable. This is for issues associated with animal behavior. Behaviorists are experts in animal behavior. They will give you the advice to safeguard both the health and happiness of your pet. Also, it is their responsibility to ensure that his fireworks or any other festivity are as positive as possible.
Keep Your Pet Safe During the 4th of July
The 4th of July and any other festivities may be fun, but the fireworks are not exciting for all the family members. These extremely loud and unexplained noises frighten dogs. Minimize risk and fear for your dog. Keep him at home and see that doors and windows are closed and secured. Never take him to the center of the festivities, but keep him safe from the noise instead. He will be calmer and safer in a comfortable, familiar, and quiet space.
Modification of behavior under an animal behaviorist’s guidance helps reduce the fireworks-related anxiety of your dog. As mentioned earlier, you can make him accustomed to the noise. Recordings are now available to help you with this. Play them at a low volume for a normalized hearing experience.
Take him for a walk or tire him out to mitigate his stress. Turning on soft music in an interior room would be of great help. His anxiety also increases his desire to chew, so give him something to get busy. Let your pet know, most importantly, that you are just right there to soothe him and keep him safe.
Many dog owners frequently ask some questions related to dog anxiety caused by fireworks. Some of these questions are as follows:
Calm your anxious dog from fireworks noise with aromatherapy, and the best one is the hemp oil. Among the other natural remedies are massage, mental stimulation, exercise, grooming and brushing, and calming music.
Benadryl can help mitigate the symptoms of anxiety. You may try to administer it at one mg per pound of your dog’s body weight. Ask his vet for the proper dosage as well.
However, its sedative effects are only mild and not as pronounced in dogs as in humans. This means that this substance may not be that helpful for dogs struggling with phobias or anxiety.
Usually, flower extracts like lavender, chamomile, and herbs compose the natural sedatives for canines. Calming products and pheromones are among the other natural ways which help soothe anxious dogs. You can always calm your dog from stress with your tender loving care.
The oral sedative drug trazodone continues to gain popularity because of its effectiveness in treating different conditions of canines. Commonly, it is a treatment for behavioral and mood disorders in mammals, particularly dogs. It helps reduce a dog’s anxiety attacks in short situations like fireworks.
However, keep the side effects of this sedative in mind. Among these include sedation, increased appetite, colon inflammation, lethargy, and loss of muscle control.
Before even getting into any treatment methods, detect the signs of your dog’s stress first. You can tell if he is stressing out with the following signs:
1. Barking or whining
2. Changes in ears and eyes
4. Yawning, licking, and drooling
6. Shaking or pacing
7. Changes in body posture
Your dog’s fear of fireworks is normal. You just have to learn and know what you can give to him every time the loud bangs and flashes from fireworks strike. The tips and steps provided above are a great guide for you as a dog owner. You can always make him accustomed to these noises. You can talk to your vet for the proper remedy. Now, if you have tried everything and none work, a behaviorist would be your next option.
Keep in touch with the vet if your dog’s health worries you. Contact the local veterinary practice for detailed information if you’re worried about any issues.
The next time your dog shows symptoms of anxiety caused by the fireworks display, follow through with the information in this article. Let us know which one is effective for your dog then. We will be happy to hear anything from you.