The Fourth of July, while fun and entertaining for people, can be traumatic for pets because of all the fireworks. The loud noises, the bright lights—all of this can be overwhelming and anxiety-inducing for your dog.
Many pets try and escape from their homes and wind up lost because the noise from the fireworks stresses them out so much. Based on this article from PetAmberAlert.com, animal control officials see a 30 to 60 percent increase in the number of lost pets in the days surrounding the Fourth of July.
Here are some tips on how to keep your dog calm, and avoid losing your best friend over the Fourth of July.
Signs of anxiety
First, it’s important to be aware of signs of anxiety in your dog so you can address it as soon as possible. Many dogs are scared of fireworks, but there are some who don’t mind the brightness and noise as much. If your dog is panting, pacing, barking or shaking, it could be because they are stressed out. It’s important to be prepared and keep an eye on your dog throughout the night.
Stay calm and act normal
If your dog is freaking out because of the fireworks, try to stay calm so that they can see that they are safe and not in any danger. Dogs look to their owners for help in scary situations, and if your dog can tell that you are worried and acting differently, it could make them more nervous. The best thing you can do for your pet is to make your home as safe and comforting as it normally is for them.
Take your dog for a walk before the fireworks start
A nice long walk before the fireworks start going off will hopefully wear your dog out and help them relax through the night. Fireworks don’t usually start until it’s completely dark outside, so a good walk in the afternoon or early evening should keep them happy and tired to calm your dog from the fireworks. You can take them out again if it seems like the fireworks are over or have died down a bit for a moment.
Close curtains and blinds
The lights from fireworks can be just as alarming to your dog as the sounds, particularly if there are a lot of fireworks going off in your area. Fireworks shows are pretty much non-stop flashing lights and loud bangs, so your dog doesn’t really get a reprieve from the noise all night. Closing the curtains and blinds helps to mitigate some of the overwhelming light and noise that makes your dog nervous. Many dogs bark at fireworks, so if they can’t see the fireworks or hear them as well, they might keep more quiet and calm.
Distract your dog with a fun puzzle or treat
Try giving your dog frozen treats or a puzzle toy, like a treat-filled Kong, to keep them occupied and help them work out some of their nervous energy. These treats and toys take longer to finish or get through, so your dog will spend more time focusing on their treat than the scary fireworks. Plus, having plenty of treats and toys around will make it clear to your dog that everything inside your house is fine and that they have nothing to fear.
Here’s a recipe for a frozen treat from one of our previous articles, How to Keep Dogs Cool in the Summer.
- 32 oz Plain Yogurt
- 3 Tablespoons Peanut Butter (make sure it contains no xylitol, which is toxic to dogs)
- 1 Large Banana, sliced
- 1 Tablespoon Honey (optional)
- Put all ingredients into a food processor or blender. Blend until creamy.
- Fill a silicone mold or an ice cube tray.
- Freeze for at least 2 hours.
- Pop out of molds and serve to your furry best friend. Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the freezer.
Make sure you have a safe space for your dog, like a covered crate or kennel
Dogs like small enclosed spaces, and it may comfort them to have a spot to retreat to if they get overwhelmed by the fireworks. Let them have this space to themselves while the fireworks are going on. Trying to force them out of their crate or hiding spot could make them more fearful of you and do more harm than good. If you want them to get out of a hiding place, try luring them out with treats or toys.
Keep your dog inside
Don’t leave your dog unattended when they’re outside while fireworks are going on, even if your yard is fenced in. Your dog might try to escape because of how stressed out they are, or could potentially damage your yard. To keep your dog safe, it’s best to keep outside time limited during the Fourth of July fireworks. Take them for a walk before the fireworks start so that they will be comfortable and prepared to stay inside for the rest of the night.
If your dog has severe anxiety because of fireworks, talk to your vet to discuss your options. They may be able to prescribe anti-anxiety medication for your dog to make fireworks-heavy nights more manageable.
So now that you and your pup have safely made it through the frightening fireworks, why not reward them with a fun costume from Pet Krewe! Once the Fourth of July is over, you and your dog can enjoy the rest of the summer in style with a new mermaid costume, pirate costume or bikini/swim trunk tank.
Remember, the best thing you can do for your dog this Fourth of July is to stay calm and provide them with a safe comfortable space in your home away from the fireworks. Keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t try to run away. If they do end up lost, try calling local veterinarian clinics and animal shelters, or talking to your neighbors to see if anyone has seen them.