Fireworks may be exciting and fun for you, but your furry friends will likely disagree. The big booms and crackling noises that accompany Fourth of July fireworks can be terrifying for your pet. In fact, they can be downright dangerous.
Before you head out to this year’s festivities, take a minute to heed these pet safety tips:
1. Don’t Take Your Dog to Live Fireworks Shows
Between the inordinate amount of people walking around, the deafening noises, and the strange smells, live fireworks displays can cause dogs to have extremely intense anxiety.
Dogs’ hearing is far more sensitive than that of humans. Because they hear sounds far more acutely than we do, being in the center of the action can worsen the experience. Your home’s walls act as noise barriers, absorbing much of the sound before it hits the eardrum. If your dog is directly beneath the pops and cracks of the fireworks, he doesn’t have anything to lessen the noise.
Fireworks also let off a distinctive odor, which many dogs are adverse to.
2. Understand What Fireworks Do to Your Dog’s Body
It may help to put yourself in your dog’s paws. Every time a firework goes off, it causes a reaction in your dog’s body that’s similar to what you feel when someone startles you. Think of how you feel the moment someone scares you, now imagine that feeling happening every few seconds for the next thirty or forty minutes.
This startled response is often responsible for:
- An increased heart rate
- A rush of adrenaline
- An increase in stress hormones
A single reaction is bad enough, but when it happens multiple times over the course of a few minutes, you can see how this could have a detrimental impact on your dog’s state of being.
3. Fireworks and Thunderstorms are Not the Same Thing
You may think your dog will be okay at a fireworks show because he’s not afraid of thunderstorms. Although these two sounds are quite similar to humans’ ears, thunderstorms offer dogs a few preparation tools, which are simply not available when fireworks head to the skies.
For example, when thunderstorms are settling in, changes occur in barometric pressure, which allow dogs to anticipate the arrival of rain, thunder, lightening, and wind. Fireworks occur suddenly — and without any atmospheric warning — meaning dogs don’t have the tools they need to prepare for the loud noises.
4. You Can’t Desensitize a Dog at the Last Minute
Some dogs aren’t afraid of fireworks. That may because they’re naturally not scared of the noise, or it may be because they’ve been desensitized to the sounds over time. Like anything else in life, training must start early. Puppies may be desensitized to certain sounds if they’re introduced at a very young age, but this process takes time and is certainly not guaranteed.
5. Be Good to Your Canine
The best thing you can do for man’s best friends during fireworks festivities is to keep him out of harm’s way. Create a special spot in your home where he’ll feel protected. Have a fluffy bed ready and keep a few special treats on hand. Consider investing in a ThunderShirt, which works similar to the way swaddling does when infants are fussy or stressed.
Looking for more ways to keep your pooch safe and happy? Be sure to check in our Arlington Heights Animal Hospital blog for more animal-centric advice!