Some dogs are so terrified of fireworks that they become frantic, panic and run away from loving homes. More dogs are lost around the 4th of July than any other time of the year and shelters report that July 5th is their busiest day of the year.
Here are some simple things to do to protect your dog during this weekend’s celebrations:
Make sure your dog is wearing a snug fitting collar with up-to-date i.d. tags. Identification tags should include the dog’s name, and a cell number where you can be reached immediately. You should also make sure your dog is microchipped. Be sure you and your vet have the microchip information on-hand and that your contact information is updated.
Take a photo of your dog today! Having a recent photo is important if you need to make “lost dog” flyers. When taking the photo, make sure you get close, and that your dog is sitting still and is well lit. Make note of any special identifying marks, for example, if she has a star-shaped spot on her right paw, make sure you get a photo of it.
Exercise your dog early in the day before celebrations begin. All walks should be on-leash in case people set off fireworks before dark. Make sure any off-leash exercise is in a securely fenced area. Exercise will tire your dog so he is more likely to want to sleep later that night and having him out earlier will reduce the chances that he’ll need to go out once the festivities begin at nightfall.
If you have family and friends over for a cookout, ask guests to play with your dog away from the grill, and within a securely fenced area only. Remember to keep charcoal and fireworks out-of-reach. These can cause serious problems if your dog gets into and chews them.
Block the sound of the fireworks by closing windows, blinds and curtains. Turn on lights and play the radio or TV to block out the flashing lights and muffle popping sounds. If weather permits, turn on air conditioners and fans–both for the noise and for the cooling effects.
Stay inside. Try to keep your dog inside during the entire celebration. Ideally, someone stays home with him too, talking to him calmly and keeping him company. Please, do not take your dog to view fireworks celebrations.
Try not to react to the fireworks yourself. If you anticipate your dog’s fear, and jump or tense up when you hear fireworks, you may make your dog more frightened. Remember that dogs read our body language and you do not want to tell them that there is any reason to be afraid.
Make sure he has a comfortable place to hide. If he feels more comfortable in his crate or under a bed, or in the basement, let him go there. Make sure he has a fresh bowl of water nearby and a soft place to get cozy.
Get him something to chew on and keep busy with…like a frozen Kong stuffed with his favorite treat.
If you already know that your dog is sensitive and fearful of fireworks, it’s even more important to be proactive in case your pet gets lost. There are many lost pet devices and services available. For example: the Pet Amber Alert ID Tag/Pet GPS combines Amber Alert technology with a QR Code and pet GPS to help find lost dogs.
In some cases, the fear is extreme and nothing may work to ease your dog’s fear. If this is the case, talk to your veterinarian about medication. She may prescribe an anti-anxiety medication or sedative to keep your dog calm during fireworks.
Other people have tried dog-coats to calm their dogs. These coats or wraps apply gentle maintained pressure (like acupressure) to reduce stress. Take a look at the Anxiety Wrap and/or the ThunderShirt to see if these might be right for your dog.
It is heartbreaking to lose a dog. Please follow these tips and share them with your friends and family to make sure your pets stay safe during this July 4th holiday.