It’s no secret that most dogs dread the 4th of July because of the fireworks. While we’re celebrating the anniversary of our independence, our pets are desperately trying to make it through the holiday with a little bit of their sanity intact.
According to experts, it’s not just fear that sends our pets running for the hills on the holiday – environment and genetics may play a part in their behavior as well.
Studies suggest that the way owners and other dogs respond to a pet’s behavior, may determine how a dog reacts. As far as genetics, researchers found that dogs that have been cross-bred were more likely to respond with fear to loud noises than some full breeds.
A dog’s heightened senses also leads to certain reactions. Things associated with the 4th of July such as bright lights, explosions and gunpowder, bother their eyes, ears and noses.
For us, what makes fireworks so exciting, is the element of surprise that we associate with it. Dogs are usually able to sense when a storm or earthquake is about to happen, but fireworks can catch them off guard which can be scary for them because they happen so randomly.
So how do you know if your dog is experiencing anxiety during the festivities? The Barking Lot not only lists some tell-tale signs below, but how you can help your pet deal with it.
You might notice reactions such as shaking, trembling, hiding, urination, salivation, destruction or comfort seeking when your dog is afraid of fireworks. He might even try to run away.
Several things you can do are:
Keep Your Dog Inside
The Humane Society suggests finding a place to take your pet, like a quiet getaway, camping or a safe place away from the noise. If you do stay home, find a room where you can play music or other sounds to help distract your dog from the commotion outside. Experts say that when a dog hears these loud, unexpected noises, it can trigger a “flight” response in them – sending them dashing off to safety.
Your pet can sense when you’re anxious or upset. So, try to create a calm, relaxed atmosphere for him before and during the fireworks. This will help convey the message that fireworks pose no threat and that he will be okay.
For some pets, fear of these loud, holiday activities can actually become a real phobia. In those cases, talk to your vet about the different types of medications available to help to help him cope. Prescription medications like Pheromones help alleviate some of your dog’s anxiety and can be found in a diffuser, spray or collar. Melatonin is sold over-the-counter and also helps allay anxiety in pets.
Swaddle Your Dog
Wraps and vests have proven to be an effective way to aid in keeping your dog calm during moments of distress. Brands like ‘ThunderShirt’ are designed to gently apply pressure while your dog is wearing it helping ease feelings of fear, anxiety and excitement during storms, travel, separation or fireworks. Other products like the Anxiety Wrap uses mild, steady pressure to give off a calming effect.