How To Help Your Dog If He's Scared Of Fireworks
Fireworks are not a dog's best friend.
In fact, every year, as the sky lights up and the air itself trembles to mark America's independence, countless pets find themselves cowering in a corner - or bathtub.
And cowering may the be least of the troubles that firework season brings.
Terror can do strange things to a dog. Like give him the ability to leap over fences he may not have been able to hurdle in the past. The man-made thunder may also drive him to dig deeper than he's ever dug before.
It's mostly about that noise - something animals are much more sensitive to than humans.
"We must keep in mind that the sense of hearing in dogs is far superior to ours - so they hear and feel these sounds with much greater intensity," Terri Bright of MSPCA-Angell's behavior services department tells The Dodo.
The end result is a dog at large, likely thinking he's running for his life - and hell on paws for anyone trying to catch him.
But there are lots of ways to ease their minds and make this season a little safer for humans and pets alike.
Don't let the dogs out This is one adventure you don't need to bring your dog along for. The best place for dogs during fireworks is indoors.
"Keep dogs in a small interior room of the house with a noise machine and shades drawn so as to block out both explosive sounds and the bright lights of fireworks," Bright says.
Remember, falling ash from fireworks can burn a dog's coat.
Try conditioning your dog to noise before the big show
While it may sound like a radical solution, sometimes it's best to inoculate your dog against loud, jarring noises in advance of fireworks season.
Dione Black, a veterinarian at All Creatures Animal Hospital, suggests bracing your pyro-phobic pet for July 4.
On the hospital's website, she says that "recordings of loud and scary noises such as firework explosions, trains, [and] thunder ... can be used to aid in the desensitization of your pet. Start with the volume down low and gradually increase it to a loud level."
There may be a pill for that
Dogs who panic during fireworks might benefit from a sedative. There are a few on the market from a mild sleep aid like melatonin to various benzodiazepines to a drug called Sileo, the first FDA-approved treatment specifically for noise aversion.
But be sure to check in with a veterinarian before giving your dog anything - different dogs may need different medications, if any at all.
Fireworks are lethal to dogs in so many ways
Nevermind what's happening in the sky. To a dog, an unlit firecracker can bear a tempting resemblance to a bright and shiny stick - which may account for the high number of dogs who see a vet during the holiday season.
"July 4 is a very busy time for emergency and critical care veterinarians," Jennifer Holm, a veterinarian at BluePearl Veterinary Hospitals, says in a release. "Pets get injured, they eat all sorts of things they wouldn't normally be eating, and many get very stressed out by fireworks."
There's no better time to unlock the treat jar
Needless to say, dogs could use a distraction when things get loud. Consider loading up on a favorite food when fireworks reach a fevered pitch.
"Offer an engaging and tasty treat such as a peanut butter-filled Kong to keep dogs occupied and comforted," Bright notes.
If everything goes terribly wrong, make sure you can find your dog In the event your dog does get outside during fireworks, you might be surprised by his ability to book it under fire. Which makes it all the more essential that the road to a happy ending often begins with a microchip.
With a little planning and patience, the boom season doesn't have to be all about the doom and gloom for your dog.
If all else fails, embrace the "thundershirt"
Back in December, The Dodo reported on a simple measure that could go a long way toward keeping your pet from going into a full-fledged panic attack.
Called a "thundershirt," this do-it-yourself model aims to wrap up your dog, making him feel snug and protected - and, hopefully, suppressing the urge to run like hell.
For more tips on how to keep your four-legged friend safe and sane during the fireworks season, click here.