Dogs lead a happy-go-lucky existence and bring daily joy to their master’s life just by giving devotion, love and offering constant companionship. The Fourth of July holiday is a time dogs need to rely on their owners to keep them safe and feeling less stressed from loud fireworks.
Dogs experience the same stress people feel when they become startled and scared from a surprise loud noise. For a dog, this anxiousness means an increased heart rate, a rush of adrenaline and an increase in stress hormones circulating through the dog’s body. A dog’s acute and keen sense of hearing intensifies fireworks’ booms and bang.
Local Jordan veterinarian Dr. Rich Lancello said dog owners can be proactive to help their beloved dogs cope with stress related to fireworks.
“You can get your own little panic room or place the dog feels comfortable and turn on fans or TV or radio and have noisemakers to block the noise of the fireworks,” Lancello said. Other sounds like music can mask the sound of outdoor fireworks.
“Some dogs like to hide in the bedroom or kneel under the stairs, in a bathroom or even get into the car because it is quiet in cars,” Lancello said, reminding owners to consider the car’s temperature. A bathtub can also serve as a quiet respite for dogs to burrow and snuggle inside blankets and nap during evening fireworks.
Are certain breeds more sensitive to the sound of fireworks?“It depends on the dog if it is sensitive or not, but it does not matter how big or small the dog is,” Lancello said, although it seems some dogs are more hearing sensitive. “It is seen in all breeds but some of the bigger dogs do damage on things and begin racing around and being upset, and sometimes the smaller breed dogs just need to be picked up and comforted,” Lancello said.
Sometimes dogs become so distressed after fireworks they experience trouble sleeping and may keep the family awake.
Sounds of booming fireworks trigger a dog’s nervous system and lead them to feel anxious or afraid, and some dogs may feel a strong desire to flee or run away from the noise as a survival instinct.
“A lot of dogs are just fine with the fireworks, but for those who don’t like the noise, we want to make sure they are safe and able to be calm,” Lancello said. “Don’t yell at them because that could make them feel anxious — and you cannot baby them because then they think it is okay to panic,” he added.
Sometimes just sitting and waiting alongside the dog until the fireworks are over is okay, just like waiting until a thunderstorm has passed.
A few of Lancello’s clients choose to board their dogs during the Fourth of July holiday.
“At the boarding facility there are other dogs and fans going there and they do better than at home,” Lancello said.
Another client boards their dog because they live near Mystic Lake Casino, where fabulous fireworks are shot off each year, and so they just seek a quiet respite for their pet.
Dogs feel a fear of fireworks differently than thunderstorms because a storm can be paired with warning signs like high winds or changes in barometric pressure. Dogs can better anticipate the experience of a storm, unlike fireworks that occur without warning, less often and in a more sudden way, so fireworks can be more intimidating for dogs, according to Pet Health Network.
Another way to calm a pet during fireworks may be to invest in a calming collar or storm shirt or cape, according to www.petmd.com .
If these safe strategies don’t work, pet owners can consult with the family veterinarian about a medication to calm the dog’s nerves and ease the pet’s stress level.
Cats fare well during the Fourth of July, Lancello said.
“Cats don’t tend to worry about it; they go hide and don’t seem to panic and keep owners awake all night,” Lancello said.
Anticipating ways to address a dog’s fear of fireworks will make for a more enjoyable holiday.
This Jordan veterinarian recommends pet owners remain calm to help calm their pets’ nerves. Lancello said, “Just be neutral and relax and let them know everything is fine.”
By KARA HILDRETH firstname.lastname@example.org