As humans, we’re often attracted to the sights and sounds of a breathtaking firework display. Whether it’s July 4th festivities, a New Year’s party, or any other kind of celebratory event, it doesn’t take long for us to look up at the sky in awe as the fireworks echo around us.
Unfortunately, for dogs, it’s a completely different story. If you’ve ever been in the presence of a pup during a firework display, the chances are you’ll have seen the dog paralyzed by fear, scared and anxious due to the constant barrage of explosions.
A recent report in the Chicago Tribune highlighted that July 5th is typically one of the busiest days for animal shelters, with a number of dogs running away upon hearing fireworks during the previous night (through our Second Chance program, we strive to create a better life for shelter animals).
So, why are dogs so affected by fireworks – and what can we, as their human companions, do to help them?
Why are dogs scared of fireworks?
A study published in April 2013 showed that pet owners reported fireworks as the most common reason for fearful responses in their dog. This won’t come as a surprise to anyone who has had to endure the stressful reactions of their pup whenever the sound of fireworks are nearby.
Many dogs are afraid of loud noises – whether that noise is a gunshot, a thunderstorm or a firework. These sounds trigger instinctive, fearful reactions and can lead to them feeling trapped, which can consequently lead to the dog becoming increasingly stressed and seeking to run away from the noise.
Canines have an acute and sensitive sense of hearing, which means they can be more likely to be affected by the loud noises generated from fireworks.
Are all dogs scared of fireworks?
Not all dogs are scared of fireworks – for example, hunting dogs who grew up around unpredictable blasts may have developed a tolerance to the noise from fireworks.
Additionally, dogs who have undergone significant desensitization to similar noises may be less susceptible to the effects of fireworks.
How can I calm my dog down during fireworks?
We’ll get into the – much-debated – potential solutions to help your dog cope with the stress of a firework display before the end of this article. However, there are some things you can always do to try and limit the stressful effects of fireworks on your dog.
- Keep your dog inside. This sounds remarkably simple, but it’s surprising how many dogs you’ll encounter at a local fireworks display. Keep your dog inside your home as much as you can, with the windows closed, and shut any curtains or blinds to further reduce external noise.
- Supervise your dog at all times. By their nature, fireworks are unpredictable – but if you have to take your dog outside to use the bathroom, try to do so at a quieter time (either before total darkness hits, or alternatively, much later in the evening when it is less likely fireworks will be let off). Check local media and social channels to find out when scheduled firework displays in your area are going to take place; this can help you to try and work your dog’s potty breaks around the loudest times of the evening.
- Use a crate or a confined space. If your dog is crate-trained, this is the perfect opportunity to let them utilize the crate as a safe space. You can also achieve similar results by confining your dog to a bathroom or other part of your home which can help isolate him from the noise outside.
- Remain calm. Your dog has a deep understanding of your emotions and can be easily led or influenced by them. If you start to worry or panic about the wellbeing of your pup during a fireworks display, there is every chance that they will start to sense your mood – and it will only heighten their anxiety. Do your best to keep a calm demeanor and help provide your pet with the comfort they need.
Are there other solutions to help dogs cope with fireworks?
When a popular holiday comes around, we often see several suggestions put forward in local and national media to help dogs deal with the noise from fireworks.
With Independence Day fast approaching, here are some examples of the wide variety of suggestions you may have read about to help your dog:
- Could CBD Keep An Anxious Pet Calm During Fourth Of July Fireworks? (HuffPost)
- Do Thundershirts Really Calm Dogs During Fireworks or What? (Wired)
- This Anxiety Supplement For Dogs Will Get Your Pups Through July 4th Fireworks (People)
- Why do dogs hate fireworks? This vet gives tips to keep your dog safe on July 4th (Yahoo)
There are mixed opinions on the suitability, viability and success of CBD, medication or other anxiety supplements. We believe the best advice mirrors the final article in our list above – speak to your veterinarian.
Your vet will have experience of dealing with your particular pet, and will be in the best position to advise on the best way to help them cope with the noise from fireworks. Simply give them a call and ask if they have any recommendations.
Any celebratory occasion can be stressful for dogs when there are fireworks involved.
By taking note of the advice in this article, and seeking advice from your veterinarian, you can help to mitigate any negative consequences for your pup the next time you – and they – hear the sound of fireworks.