[by Jennifer Greer] Barbecues, sparklers, and family gatherings for the 4th of July are approaching rapidly. The 4th of July is a welcome celebration for most of us, but not so much for our furry four-legged friends. In celebration of Independence Day, we often enjoy the stellar fireworks displays in our towns or even in our backyards. While these events are fun for us, the sudden and often loud booming sounds often frighten and disturb our dogs more than we know.
If your neighborhood is anything like mine the celebration could even begin a few days early and last a few days past the initial holiday putting our furry loved ones through countless distressing moments of anxiety, terror, shaking, incessant barking, panting, etc. Anxiety in one pup might not be the same in the other, so be sure to keep an eye on your dog and find out how stress shows itself.
For my little boy Harley, anxiety over fireworks and loud noises, in general, comes out in the form of uncontrollable shaking and hiding under the bed, unable to move until the noise subsides. I’ve spent many a holiday curled up with my dog just trying to give him some sense of comfort and security.
There are ways you can help your dog through the traumatic holiday and even prepare them beforehand though. Rest assured we’ve got everything you need to know listed below.
There are a few steps you can take to help protect and comfort your dog; old and young on the 4th of July and New Year holidays:
- Consider using a Thundershirt, which applies gentle pressure to your dog’s body and can have a calming effect.
- Explore the use of aromatherapy for dogs, such as lavender or chamomile scents, which can promote relaxation.
- Pheromones like DAP: Dog-appeasing pheromones, available in products like sprays or diffusers, can help create a sense of security and calmness for your dog.
- Audio with sounds of fireworks: Playing audio recordings that simulate the sounds of fireworks at a low volume while your dog is in a relaxed state can help desensitize them to the noise and reduce anxiety.
- Take your dog on a long walk or hike before the start of fireworks and festivities. The best recommended time is early morning. Engaging your dog in a long session of fetch before the start of the fireworks can help tire him out and reduce his stress levels. Anything that will tire your furry friend out and promote them to sleep through the night a little easier.
- Talk with your licensed veterinarian about your dog and their anxiety surrounding loud noises like fireworks before any big holiday or event. Discuss if your dog is a good candidate for a calming medication. If at all possible it’s best to avoid this unless necessary.
- Check out HEALING COMPANIONS STRESS REDUCTION for more tips and information on stress prevention techniques.
- We all want to include our dog in everything. Why not? They’re a part of the family. It’s understandable. But if you love them, leave them home on the fourth if you can. It’s for their safety. More pets go missing during the 4th of July than any other year according to the American Kennel Club.
- Don’t take your pet with you to the family gathering or local parade. You’re only putting your dog in a situation that will make them uncomfortable and it could end with them running off.
- Stay in with your furry friend and create a safe space with your pet. “Try setting up an area in a quiet space away from windows — such as a basement or a larger closet — so that they can’t hear or see fireworks. Use a crate if that’s where your dog feels safe, and make sure to provide your pup with familiar toys and treats.” (American Kennel Club)
- Find things to keep your dog occupied and stimulated during the loud noises. Interactive toys and lick mats and bowls filled with healthy delicious treats are a great distraction. If you don’t have a lick mat, try using their dog bowl and layer and freeze different treats, yogurt, berries, etc, at different intervals to layer the bowl. The goal is to challenge your dog so they focus on the treat more than the loud noise outside.
You’re probably wondering what if I have to take my dog outside? That’s a great question! This is where you can take steps to prevent anything from happening to your best buddy.
- Keep your dog leashed at all times and double-check their collars are fit correctly so they can’t slip out of their collar if something startles them.
- Wearing a harness or vest of some sort can give your dog the benefit of feeling secure as well as protect them from running off at the slightest sound of a firecracker.
- Getting your dog microchipped is also a great source of comfort just in case. Make sure your information is up to date on your microchip as well.
- Get your dog a GPS collar such as a FiSmart collar. This allows you to track your dog right from your phone in the event he would run off.
- Invest in a ByteTag. This innovative device allows anyone with a camera cellphone to scan a QR code on the back of the tag. If your dog goes missing, the person who finds them can easily contact you and alert you of their whereabouts. This added layer of security can bring peace of mind during the festive season filled with fireworks.
As we approach the festive season filled with fireworks displays, it’s crucial to remember that our dogs may experience fear and anxiety during these events. By taking proactive measures, such as preparing them beforehand, creating a safe space, and engaging them with stimulating activities, we can help alleviate their distress. Consulting with your veterinarian and exploring stress prevention techniques can provide further guidance tailored to your dog’s needs. Remember, your furry companion relies on you for comfort and security, so be there for them during these challenging times. Let’s make this Independence Day a celebration that includes our dogs, keeping them safe and calm throughout the festivities.
1. Everyday Health:
“How to Keep Dogs Safe During Fireworks.” Everyday Health. Retrieved from: [Link](https://www.everydayhealth.com/pet-health/how-keep-dogs-safe-during-fireworks/).
2. Preventive Vet:
“Get Your Dog Ready for 4th of July.” Preventive Vet. Retrieved from: [Link](https://www.preventivevet.com/dogs/get-your-dog-ready-for-4th-of-july).
3. American Kennel Club:
“How to Keep Your Dog Calm During Fireworks.” American Kennel Club. Retrieved from: [Link](https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/how-to-keep-your-dog-calm-during-fireworks/).
4. Whole Dog Journal:
“Preparing Your Fireworks-Phobic Dog for July 4th.” Whole Dog Journal. Retrieved from: [Link](https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/blog/preparing-your-fireworks-phobic-dog-for-july-4th/).
5. The New York Times
“How to Block Fireworks Noise”
Wirecutter , The New York Times [link](https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/blog/how-to-block-fireworks-noise/)