July 4th 2018 is almost upon us! Barbecues, outdoor celebrations, and of course, fireworks.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), a 2016 survey reported that 44 percent of owners said their dogs showed signs of noise aversion, the term used to describe the fear and anxiety dogs experience during loud noise. Dogs suffering from noise aversion are distressed. They pace, pant, and may damage property to escape from the noise. They’ll show signs of anxiety at the first sound of the fireworks, as well as the flash that comes with them.
More dogs run away over the July 4th holiday than any time of the year. Many animal shelters consider July 5th to be one of their busiest and most hectic days as these runaway dogs are picked up.
If your dog becomes afraid or anxious during July 4th fireworks, here are steps you can take to help:
Keep your dog inside. If they’re outdoors, they might jump over or dig under a fence — or breach an electronic fence — and run away. Keep them in a safe, comfortable room. Close the curtains or lower the blinds and play music or put on the TV.
Stay with your dog. If your dog is really anxious and afraid, give them comfort and company. Spend some time with them. If they’re alone, they might go to great lengths to escape the cause of their fear.
Prepare in advance. Products easily found at pet stores can help keep your dog calm during a fireworks display. ThunderShirt applies gentle, calming pressure to dogs when they wear it — similar to swaddles for babies. The same company produces a ThunderCap, which fits over a dog’s head and reduces visual stimulation. There are also various calming sprays and hormone solutions you can try to help ease your dog’s fear.
Visit your veterinarian. Doing everything above might help your dog, but it also might not. If your dog still has debilitating anxiety and fear, talk to your veterinarian. They may be able to prescribe anti-anxiety medication for you to use in these circumstances. They’ll will be able to determine which drug is most likely to be successful and is safe, and will recommend the appropriate dosage.
Even if you don’t have fireworks around — or they’re not an issue for your dog — there are a few more things to keep in mind during your 4th of July events.
Monitor your dog around food. Your dog might want to eat scraps of what you’re cooking (or grilling), but any sudden changes in their diet might upset their stomach. And some foods — onions, avocado, raisins, grapes — can be toxic.
Use pet-friendly sunscreen and insect repellent. If your dog is outside and you want to protect them from the sun and bugs, make sure to use products specifically formulated for pets. Products made for humans can be toxic.
Watch your dog around alcohol. Alcohol can be extremely toxic to animals, so keep an eye out and make sure your dog doesn’t ingest any! The same goes for marijuana and other drugs. Dogs cannot assimilate these products as humans do. Small amounts can be deadly to small dogs.
Check your dog’s identification. Just in case your dog escapes — and let’s hope that doesn’t happen — make sure they’re protected with an electronic microchip or a safe collar with your name, address, and telephone number.
With these tips in mind, you and your dog are sure to have a safe and enjoyable July 4th holiday.