No doubt, the 4th of July is a special occasion in America. Who doesn’t enjoy gathering with fellow family and friends to celebrate our independence? The pick-nicks, the beach parties, the Bar-B-Ques. Add some fireworks and you’ve got yourself a party. Dogs and fireworks, however, are a completely different story.
While most people enjoy a good fireworks display, the experience of fireworks is much different for dogs, more so than natural loud noises, like thunder. While the sound of thunder can come from a distance, or even right above you, fireworks are closer to the ground, causing the sound to literally bounce back upward. The sound is also more intense and the explosions are accompanied by brilliant flashes of light and the smell of burning sulfur. Remember, dogs experience the world through their senses — nose, eyes, ears.
It is natural for dogs to be afraid of loud noises. The sounds trigger their nervous systems, and they can become anxious or afraid. Running away from the noise is a survival instinct. In fact. more pets go missing on the 4th of July than on any other day of the year. To them, a typical Fourth of July celebration can be overwhelming. Dogs and fireworks are not always a celebratory combination.
Here are some tips to help keep your dog safe and calm during 4th of July celebrations.
If you have a dog, making sure your fur baby feels safe is part of your commitment. Unlike in the past, where one had to go to location where fireworks displays were held, more people are starting to provide their own 4th of July fireworks displays right in their own neighborhoods. Because of this, it’s becoming more difficult to find a place where you and your dogs won’t be surrounded by the sounds and flashes of exploding fireworks.
DO NOT LEAVE YOUR DOG ALONE!
If at all possible, stay home with your dog on the 4th of July. If not, make sure someone else is there, someone you trust and someone they are familiar with and feel safe around will be there to comfort them should the evenings celebrations get to be too intense for them.
The one thing to completely avoid? Acting frantic when they get scared. Dogs can sense when you are feeling anxious. If you are saying, “It’s OK, it’s OK, it’s OK” in a higher-than-average pitch, your dog may think something is very wrong. Remain calm, speak in a low, soothing voice and provide lots of cuddles to reassure your canine companion.
Keep Your Dog Away From Fireworks
Unless you already know your dog is not afraid of fireworks, DO NOT take your dogs to fireworks shows, and DO NOT leave them outside during fireworks. Keeping your dog inside in the evening on the Fourth of July is the best idea, especially if you fear they might not react well.
Make Sure Your Pet Has Proper ID
Even if you are staying home and intend to keep close company with your dog, make sure your dog has it’s collar on and that all of the information on your pet’s collar is current. The best way to better ensure that you will be able to relocate your dog if it runs off is to make sure your dog is microchipped and/or has a GPS device.
Create a Safe Space For Your Dog
A day or so before the 4th of July, prepare a cozy area where your dog will feel comfortable. Remember, dogs are den animals. The best place to create a safe space for them would be in an interior room, away from closets – such as a closet — where outside noise will be most muffled.
Cover a crate with multiple quilts or blankets to create a little cave for them, and make sure to provide your pup with familiar toys and treats to help keep them distracted.
Play White Noise
Turn on the television or play some music to help mask the sounds of the fireworks. There’s even some music — like “Through A Dog’s Ear” or “Clam My Dog” — that has been proven to have calming effects for dogs. Over at the Humane Society of the Nature Coast, music is played in the cat cottage to keep the kitties calm and dogs are placed in foster homes so they can be in the company of caring people.
Go for a Long Walk Before the Fireworks Start
Before it starts getting dark, take your dog on a nice, long walk. Because some people get a little eager to start their fireworks celebrations, you’ll want to head out before the sun starts to set and make sure your dog is secure on the leash, just in case.
Try a Calming Wrap
Calming wraps and vests — such as a “ThunderShirt” or “CalmingCoat” — apply light, constant pressure, which many dogs find to be soothing and calming.
Talk to Your Vet
If your dog has already displayed fretfulness during fireworks or thunderstorms and that anxiety is severe, consider booking an appointment with your vet so you can discuss a medication that could help keep them calm. However, if you are not comfortable providing your dog with pharmaceuticals, more and more pet parents are turning to an all-natural alternative, Cannabidiol oil (better known as CBD oil), to help relieve their anxiety and stress.
While the 4th of July is a cause for celebration, it’s also a day when your dog may need your comfort and reassurance more than usual.
If you have any questions or thoughts to share, feel free to enter them in the comments section below!