Here's How To Keep Your Dog Safe During Fireworks
July 4 and 5 are the busiest times of year for shelters because dogs get scared of loud noises and run away.
While the Fourth of July is known as a fun, thrilling holiday for people, it can often be exactly the opposite for dogs. Independence Day comes with heat, crowds and lots of noise — all things that can be overwhelming for anyone, and especially for dogs.
“Everything that happens in the summer, we see on the Fourth of July — and then you add fireworks into the mix,” Dr. Sonja Olson, a senior clinician with BluePearl Veterinary Partners, said in a press release.
According to BluePearl, the number of patients it takes into its hospitals on the Fourth of July is 55 percent higher than on an average day. If your dog is the type to get easily startled or upset, this holiday could have potentially disastrous results for him — especially once the fireworks start.
Fireworks displays can be loud and jarring, even for people who understand what they are and why they’re happening, so it’s hard to imagine how scary they must be for dogs and other pets. Fireworks are often the hardest part about the Fourth of July when it comes to dogs, but luckily, there are some things you can do to make the whole experience a little easier for them.
Try to exercise your dog as much as you can in the hours before the fireworks start.
Getting your dog out and about earlier in the day will help to tire him out, and hopefully make him a little calmer once all the commotion finally begins. “Exercise can help ease anxiety and aid in relaxation,” Nicole Ellis, pet lifestyle expert with Rover.com, told The Dodo. “Take your dog for a long walk before the holiday festivities begin.”
Make sure his collar or harness is tight and secure. The day of the Fourth can still be busy and overwhelming, and if your dog gets nervous from the crowds or the noise, he may try to slip out of his collar or harness and run away.
Find a place where your dog feels comfortable.
Letting your dog have free reign of the house or yard while the fireworks are happening isn’t always the best idea. Even if the yard is fenced in or all the doors are locked, your dog still might find a way to get out. Put her in a room she’s comfortable in, like a bedroom, where she can snuggle up and wait out all the noise. It might help to close the curtains or blinds, too, so she isn’t caught off guard by all the flashing lights.
If your dog is afraid of loud noises or easily startled, don’t leave him alone.
While it can be fun to go out and try to find the perfect spot to watch the fireworks, make sure you consider how your dog might feel about them first. “If you know your pet is terrified of fireworks, you probably don't want to leave them home alone while you go out for four or five hours to see the display,” Olson told The Dodo.
When a dog is left all alone and something scares him, that’s when he starts to panic. The best way to ensure that your dog is completely safe during the Fourth is to stay with him the entire time, or at least make sure someone else is there if you can’t be. Hire a pet sitter if you have to — it’s better to pay the cost of a sitter than have to pay for vet bills from fear-induced injuries later on.
Make sure your dog is in a safe area when the fireworks start.
Once you’ve found a space where your dog feels comfortable, make sure that space is completely safe. Once the fireworks start, your dog might feel compelled to run around the room in a panic, and you don’t want him knocking into or getting tangled up in anything in the process. “We see animals who were scared or startled and that’s what gets them into trouble — they got hit by cars, or stepped on, or ran into something like a hot grill,” Olson said.
Lay out some soft blankets or pillows in whatever room your dog is in, both for him to relax on and to cushion any potential freakouts.
Distract them with toys, music or games.
The Fourth of July is the perfect time to buy your dog a new toy or get her favorite kind of treat or bone. The more distracted she is, the less likely she is to notice the scary noises happening outside, and the easier it’ll be to get her through it. “Drown out the noise of the fireworks by turning on the TV or playing music,” Ellis said. “Or, join your pet in the laundry room — running tennis balls in the dryer."
Try using a special shirt or vest.
If all else fails, you could try putting a ThunderShirt, or other type of calming vest, on your dog to help him relax and feel safe. You can even make a version of a calming vest at home using just a piece of fabric.
If your dog runs away, check shelters as often as you can.
If your dog somehow gets out of your house and runs away, don’t lose hope. Shelters take in dogs lost because of fireworks for weeks after the celebrations have ended. Keep checking with your local shelters. Before the festivities even begin, it’s important to make sure that your dog is microchipped, so that if the unthinkable does happen, it will be that much easier to help bring him back home again.