Dog Scared of Fireworks? Shaking? 10 Ways to Calm Them.
Dog Scared of Fireworks
Is your dog afraid of fireworks? Are they shaking while it happens? I have a friend whose dog actually jumped out of a second story window because local neighbors were setting off fireworks. (they weren’t home at the time)
He almost died because he lost so much blood, cutting himself on the broken glass. Hopefully no one else experiences something that horrible. But, having a dog that’s stressed out, shaking and pacing around the house is no fun either.
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If you have a dog, I am sure you have run into the issue of dogs and fireworks a time or two. And, now with many states relaxing their fireworks laws, the everyday homeowner seems to set of their own fireworks and explosions beginning in mid-June. Around here, anyway.
We all find fireworks fascinating but pets, especially dogs, are scared of these loud bangs. Dogs have sensitive ears that cannot withstand the magnified sound of fireworks.
Here in the USA, July 4 and 5 are the busiest days of the year for runaway dogs, due to fireworks. Dogs and fireworks is an important subject that every dog owner must be aware of.
Dogs and Fireworks
Not every dog wants to get out of their own skin during fireworks and storms. Some will pace and pant. Other dogs will whine. But yes, many will run run run….to try to get away from the sound. And we don’t want your dog to be a statistic–either lost or hit by car.
Why are dogs afraid of Fireworks?
45% of the pet dogs indicate the signs of fear when they hear loud bangs and flashing lights. With proper care and attention, you can make your dog feel comfortable during fireworks.
Before understanding the connection between dogs and fireworks, you need to understand the reasons why dogs are afraid of fireworks.
- Fireworks are loud and flashing
- They are unpredictable and dogs find that extremely disturbing
- Fireworks pose a safety threat for the dogs
- Dogs feel trapped during the firework display
According to the Anxiety Wrap Company, “sound can be over-stimulating and it causes a huge spike in adrenaline levels.”
This leads to an increase in heart rate and rapid breathing which then creates an unfavorable environment for cortisol – aka that feel-good hormone (serotonin) you need so much. In other words, fireworks = the dog’s worst nightmare.
How to Keep your Dog Safe during Fireworks
If you’re a dog owner, you know that loud noises like thunder and fireworks can scare your pets. You may be wondering what to do if your dog is scared of fireworks.
Prepare ahead of time to support your dog. If you will be vacationing when fireworks will be going off, consider boarding your best friend(s) at a retreat like an amusement park for dogs.
This allows you to stay out late and enjoy fun activities without having to worry about your dog’s anxiety during fireworks. If you’re thinking about bringing your dog(s) along for the trip, be sure to practice at home first!
This post will walk you through some easy ways to keep your pet safe during fireworks season. We’ll also help you find solutions for those times when prevention just won’t work and your dog is hysterical with fear.
How to Calm Your Dog During Fireworks
Lots of dogs have issues with the sound of thunderstorms or fireworks and many people are surprised to know that these loud noises can be really stressful for dogs. If you’re looking for ways to help your dog cope, here are some things you can do:
- Give your dog a safe place they find comforting such as their bed, crate, or with you on the couch.
- Go about your business as usual. Do not reinforce their extreme fear–that will reinforce that they have something to worry about. Act normal, play with them, pet them–but not whiny, baby talk to them.
- Distract them by playing games like hide-and-seek or fetch. You can also try giving them a highly desired item such as a pig ear or bone, as a distraction.
- Give them plenty of water or food to help keep their body temperature normal. They may not always want to eat even when there’s no noise so be sure to give them some extra attention and time to eat.
- I would avoid a walk outside if neighbors are setting off fireworks. But, if you insist, yes they do make sound cancelling headphones for dogs. (there were some on Shark Tank recently)
- Play nature sounds or music. This should help reduce the noise until the fireworks are over and then take away the music.
- We can’t predict every fireworks display that our neighbors do. But, during times like July 4 week, make sure your dog is walked and toileted before dusk so they will not have to go outside then.
- If your dog has a squeaky toy, take it out and play with it to distract from the fireworks noise.
- Give your dog some time to recover and then reinforce any progress by giving them homemade dog training treats or playtime after it is over.
- Keep them indoors and safe. Many times dogs can and will escape the fence when outside trying to run from the sound. If you have small children or visitors not familiar with your household, you don’t want them accidentally allowing a frightened, panicked dog to escape.
- Make sure their microchip or tag info is up to date on the off chance they do get away. You want them to have the best chance of making it back home safe. During the first week of July, consider a bandanna and/or a collar with your information on it, if your dog doesn’t normally wear one.
- If you have a dog that none of these tips work for, you may need to use a mild sedative. While there are some over-the-counter options like calming treats to help relax your dog, you can also ask your vet for a prescription. Talk with your vet about this in June so you have them on hand.
- If you live near a place that does a large, loud, professional display (around me, that would be Longwood Gardens or the town park in Hockessin), consider boarding your dog for the night at a place far away from the festivities.
What can I give my dog for fireworks anxiety?
Before giving your dog any medication, whether it’s prescription or over the counter, always talk with your vet. Even if the website or internet says it’s fine, some dog breeds react differently to things.
And, you would always want to do a “trial run” before fireworks night. Perhaps, if you have a thunderstorm in the weeks before, try it then.
One of the veterinarians I used to work for was opposed to giving medication to most dogs. His reasoning was that many sedatives are strong and can actually have the opposite effect. Or, since they may mute a dog’s ability to “deal” with the situation, it may confuse them and create more anxiety.
This is why it’s important to try out the meds before July 4. You don’t want to be in the emergency vet clinic paying those holiday fees because your dog had an adverse reaction or because you read some bad advice on the internet.
But, there are many options out there.
Are Loud Noises Dangerous for Dogs?
Many people would answer “yes” to this question. Dogs have an extraordinary sensitivity to sound, and the sounds they process are much sharper and clearer than those of humans.
Loud noises can actually be a silent killer for your dog due to their inability to hear.
The short answer is that noise combined with injuries or trauma causes temporary or permanent deafness in many animals, including dogs.
This leads many dogs to think they are going deaf even when hearing tests reveal nothing wrong with them. In addition, it’s been documented that some dogs lose their ability to hear once they’ve been exposed every day for 20 minutes or more.
Fireworks Sounds and Dogs
Fireworks create a loud bang that can startle your dog and make him feel vulnerable. Fireworks also have a bright, flickering light that may cause them to grow more fearful and anxious.
If you want to learn how to help your dog during the upcoming fireworks season then follow the tips we have shared.
Dogs are often afraid of loud noises, flashing lights, and changes in their environment. Fireworks are all three of these things at once, which is why they’re so frightening to dogs.
It’s important for pet owners to know how best to support their dogs during fireworks season so they don’t feel threatened or anxious about the constant loud noise around them.