On Independence Day, some dogs are oblivious to fireworks, while others are absolutely terrified.
About 25 percent of dogs exhibit fireworks-related stress to some degree. They shake, they pant, they pace. Sometimes they seek shelter in areas where they would never seek shelter before. Sometimes they just try to escape, clawing at walls, doors, and gates.
Few pets are likely to enjoy the sound of fireworks, and veterinarians say dogs seem to take Independence Day the hardest. A fireworks-spooked dog may, when given the chance, take off and just keep running, and by the time he stops, he gets lost and can’t find his way home. Because of this, animal shelters see an greater influx of stray animals than on any other day. It’s important to keep doors and yard gates closed, and if you haven’t micro-chipped your dog, it’s a good time to consider doing it.
The first step in helping a skittish dog survive Independence Day is to be there for him. You can give him comfort verbally, give him treats, play ball with him, and do different things to distract him from overreacting to the stimulus.
If your dog will be left alone on the Fourth, try confining him to a quiet, dark room so that he can feel a bit safer. An interior room that is well-insulated from outside noise is best. Leave a television or radio on in the room to provide a distraction and help drown out the sudden boom of fireworks. If your dog is used to sleeping in a crate, consider that as an option as well.
You might even consider boarding your dog. That way, he will be able to interact with other dogs, which also provides a distraction from outside noises.
Owners whose dogs have a particularly difficult time with fireworks or thunder may want to ask their veterinarian about sedative medications that are made for animals. Another option is over-the-counter Benadryl, an allergy medication that can offer dogs a mild sedative effect.
Dogs find comfort in a tight, enclosed garment. Some owners have reported success with the Thundershirt, a tight-fitting garment that a dog wears like a jacket. Or, just using a tight t-shirt around a shaking dog can have a similar calming effect.
Other dog owners have tried DAP (dog-appeasing pheromone) collars. The pheromones put dogs into kind of a comfortable, tranquil state, and helps them become less anxious.
Loud noises from fireworks displays aren’t the only hazards pets face on Independence Day.
Home fireworks: A dog may go after a sparkler and get burned or suffer a face burn from
getting too close to a hot or exploding device, or become hurt after chasing a moving or ground-based pyrotechnic. Pets can suffer from all the hazards that people do.
Heat: Provide plenty of water and shade when dogs are outdoors. Heat exhaustion can be very serious.
Barbecue: Don’t share holiday dinner with your dog. Onions are toxic to dogs and can cause fatal hemolytic anemia. Ingesting bones can cause serious digestive problems in dogs, and spicy foods and such high-fat foods as hamburgers can cause digestive illnesses and pancreatitis in dogs.
Party favors: Some party decorations can be harmful to dogs. Keep them, and any other attractive temptations away from dogs.