In the United States, July 5 is the busiest day of the year for animal shelters. Many dogs that would otherwise be calm, run away from home because of the noise and lights of fireworks during Fourth of July celebrations. Halloween also is a night filled with fire crackers and fireworks that can frighten pets. Dogs have reactions very similar to thunderstorm anxiety and will panic and act irrationally.
If you are going to see live fireworks displays, it's best to plan to leave dogs at home. The crowds, commotion and loud sounds can be stressful to even the most well-behaved dogs. And, in stressful situations, some dogs may even bite.
Here are a few tips for keeping dogs calm and safe during celebrations.
Before the fireworks start, bring and keep your dog inside. Shelters say that most dogs that they taken in have been left in yards during fireworks. The dogs either dig their way under fences or jump over them to escape the noise.
Keep windows and doors closed. Do not leave dogs in rooms with open windows during fireworks. Dogs have been known to leap out of windows or bolt through open doors to escape the noise as well.
Opening and closing doors. If people in your home are going inside and out frequently, take the precaution of having your dog under control (or and on a leash) to prevent him/her from bolting away unexpectantly.
Provide a safe hiding place. Make sure your dog has a safe "den" to retreat to, whether this is their regular crate, under your bed, or on favorite blanket. It is very important a dog does not feel trapped. If a dog goes into a panic he/she can hurt him/herself trying to get out.
Minimize external noise. Close the windows, blinds or curtains in a safe room for your dog. Play background noise (white noise), such soothing music, the air conditioner or television or radio.
Don't let dogs near unlit or lit fireworks. If you end up having your dog around a firework display, keep the dog leashed and away from them. Just like a curious child, a dog may approach fireworks when they are lit, and this can cause severe burns and/or trauma to your dog. Unlit or spent fireworks pose a threat as well as ingredients are toxic if your dog ends up chewing on them.
Keep dogs away from barbeques. The smell of cooking meat is a temptation to any dog. A dog can get easily burned or punctured on the barbeque and utensils, so dogs should also be kept away.
Keep dogs away from mosquito control products. Citronella candles, insect coils and DEET products are toxic to dogs.
Keep dogs away from the food table. Celebrations are filled with fun foods and drinks which may not healthy to dogs. Examples of everyday hazards include avocados, grapes, raw/undercooked meat, onions and alcohol. Read our article on: Toxic Foods for Dogs for more toxic foods.
Keep dogs cool. If you bring your dog with you to a celebration, never leave him/her in the car and monitor your dog for heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Consider medicinal treatments. Dogs with severe symptoms may benefit from a drug therapy or naturopathic therapy, such as Dog Appeasing Pheromone (D.A.P.). Consult with your veterinarian as to whether anti-anxiety drugs may be suitable.
You can also try using any snug dog shirt, sweater or jacket or an anti-anxiety clothing product such as a Thundershirt to see if it helps calm a dog's nerves. Remove the garment if your dog show any signs of overheating or becoming more stressed with it on.
Make sure dogs have identification. Even if you leave your dog indoors, make sure your dog has his/her identification tags on and is microchipped in case if he/she happens to gets loose and runs away. If your dog does go missing check with your local shelters within 24 hours. Dogs left at a shelter for more than 48 hours risk being adopted out or even euthanized!
As extra precaution, take a minute to sign up and create a profile for your dog on DogHeirs. With a dog profile on DogHeirs you have Internet tools to help mobilize friends and the community to help you find your dog, in case he/she goes missing. You can update your description, photos and other details to aid in your search. And once you've swiched your dog's profile to "Lost", it will show up on the main "My Neighborhood" page, as well as the main "Lost Dogs" page for everyone in your area to see it.
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We've done our best to provide you with free tools to help reunite you with your dog in the event he/she goes missing because we know that dogs are family.
Have a safe celebration!
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