If your dog gets anxious during fireworks displays, here are some tips to help calm and comfort them
Fireworks are often a part of summer celebrations. While people ooh and ah over the explosive sounds and brilliant colors, fireworks frighten many dogs.
Dogs are often scared of fireworks due to their sensitive hearing and lack of understanding of loud and sudden noises. A dog’s hearing is up to four times more sensitive than that of a human. This causes them to experience fear and anxiety when exposed to fireworks. In addition, dogs may perceive the bright lights and unpredictable flashes as a threat, leading to further distress. Loud explosions may also trigger a dog’s natural fight or flight response, causing them to panic and attempt to escape. Over time, some dogs may become more and more afraid of fireworks.
Most animal experts strongly advise against intentionally exposing dogs to fireworks. It can have serious negative consequences on their mental and physical well-being. The loud booms and bright flashes of fireworks can cause dogs to experience extreme fear and anxiety, which can lead to a number of behavioral problems such as shaking, panting, barking, and attempts to escape. In addition, dogs with pre-existing medical conditions such as heart disease or respiratory problems may be especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of fireworks.
With some advance planning, you can minimize your dog’s exposure to fireworks to provide him with a safe space and help keep him calm during firework displays.
Provide Your Dog with a Safe, Secure Space during Fireworks
If you know of a planned fireworks display nearby, do not leave your dog outside. Instead, provide him a safe, secure space that minimizes his exposure to the sounds and lights of fireworks. Some options include:
- A secure, indoor room. The ideal room would have no windows—or if there are windows, the curtains or blinds are closed. A basement is ideal because it further limits the sights and sounds of fireworks.
- A dog crate or kennel. If your dog is accustomed to a crate or kennel, it provides a secure, safe space for him. If the room where the crate is has windows, close the blinds or curtains. But if your dog is unaccustomed to a crate or becomes anxious in a crate, then putting him in a crate during the fireworks may make him more anxious.
- Professional dog boarding. Some boarding facilities offer special accommodations for dogs that are anxious during fireworks displays. This may include calming music or pheromone sprays to help them feel more relaxed.
Calming Aids for Your Dog
Several calming aids can help soothe and relax dogs during fireworks displays. These include:
- Anxiety vests: Also known as Thundershirts, these vests use gentle pressure technology to provide a calming effect on the dog’s nervous system. They work by creating a close-fitting sensation around the dog’s torso. This offers gentle pressure similar to a hug, and helps them feel secure and safe.
- Sound therapy: Sound therapy works by reducing the impact of fireworks by replacing the noise with relaxing ambient music, natural sounds, or white noise. Several apps and digital platforms offer calming sound compilations explicitly designed for dogs, which can work effectively in keeping them relaxed.
- Herbs and supplements: Certain herbs, such as chamomile, lavender, and valerian, have soothing properties that can help to ease anxiety and promote relaxation. These natural remedies are widely available in the form of sprays, pills, and drops, and can be very useful for dogs that are particularly sensitive or reactive to loud noises.
- Exercise: While exercise is not recommended during a fireworks display, it can help to exercise during the day before the fireworks begins. Exercise releases endorphins that help dogs feel relaxed and happy. This will help to take the edge off the anxiety caused by fireworks.
Contact Us for More Options
While these tips work for many dogs, some dogs become so frightened and anxious during fireworks that we may recommend prescription medication. If you have a dog that is extremely fearful or anxious during fireworks, contact us today and schedule an appointment.
It’s best to be proactive and have a plan in place for your dog before the fireworks begin.