Fireworks and Your Dog
Some ideas for dogs who react badly to fireworks.
Why does my dog react badly to the fireworks?
Animals have a more sensitive sense of hearing than humans do, so noises that are a little loud to us can be downright deafening to them. When panicked, our pets will do most anything to get away from a frightening situation. Dogs can get stressed out by Firework displays because the loud noise and the flashing light can startle them and are unpredictable. Some ways they may show they are stressed or anxious include panting excessively, extra drooling, shaking, yawning, and putting their tail between their legs. With a little pre-planning you, as a pet owner, can make special occasions a fun and exciting day for you as well as your pets.
Is there a way to change the reaction?
Sometime you can desensitize your pet to loud noises. The use of compact discs with recordings of loud and scary noises such as firework explosions, trains, thunder etc… can be used to aid in the desensitization of your pet. Start with the volume down low and gradually increase it to a loud level. Training will take months so do not expect it to work right away.
Here are some tips on what can be done for your dog during fireworks
- Know when fireworks will be happening in your neighborhood by contacting your local city hall. Mark the dates on your calendar.
- Never let off fireworks near or next to your pet. If ignited to close to your pet, fireworks can cause very painful burns to the body, face, nose and mouth in addition to the psychological trauma they are sure to produce.
- Don’t take your dog to a fireworks display. Even if they don’t bark or whimper at the noise, it doesn’t mean that they are happy. Excessive panting and yawning can indicate that your dog is stressed.
- Make sure all of your pets wear an appropriate fitting collar with proper identification attached, such as a rabies tag or a tag with their name, address and phone number on it. Micro chipping your pet is also highly recommended. Check to make sure your contact details are current.
- Do not leave your pet outside, loose in the yard, kennel or tethered. They will have no place to go and the combination of restraint and noise may traumatize them even more.
- Keep your pets inside the house, garage or basement.
- Walk your dog at least 1 hour before the sun sets to prevent exposure to the fireworks. Take an extra-long walk to use up his extra energy if possible.
- Feed and water your pet a few hours before confining them to the house or kennel
- Prepare a ‘den’ for your pet where it can feel safe and comfortable .Provide kennels or other “safe places” for your pets to hide, like under a bed or behind a sofa, with some of your old clothes. Cover the kennels with blankets or covers to dampen the noise.
- Close all windows and doors, and block off animal doors to stop pets escaping and to keep noise to a minimum. Draw the curtains, and if the animals are used to the sounds of TV or radio, switch them on (but not too loudly) in order to block out some of the noise of the fireworks.
- Do not shut off all the lights in the house, leave some of the lights on so your pet will be calmer and it will also reduce the flashes of light that may be affecting your pet. Leaving them in a pitch black room may frighten them further.
- Let your worried dog pace around, whine and hide in a corner if he wants to. Once they have found a safe space try not to disturb them. You may also try to distract them with a toy or a game.
- Don’t punish your pet for its reaction to fireworks or other loud noises.
- Avoid leaving your pet alone during such potentially upsetting events. If you do have to leave the house, don’t get angry with your pet if you find they have been destructive or toileted after being left on its own. Shouting at a frightened pet will only make them more stressed.
- Never leave a noise phobia pet with friends unless they are acutely aware of your pets’ behavior and what they will need to do to calm your pet down. Only leave your pet with someone your pet knows and is comfortable with. Leaving your pet with strangers may only increase their anxiety.
- Once you are sure the fireworks are over, check on your pet
- Before letting your pet outside, do a sweep of your yard to make sure there are no spent fireworks or other hazards laying around that your pet may come in contact with. Fireworks contain dangerous chemicals that can cause vomiting, a painful abdomen and bloody diarrhea. More severe reactions such as seizures, tremors and kidney or liver failure may occur depending on the ingredients in the firework ingested. If your pet ingests any fireworks contact your family veterinarian, your nearest emergency veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline
- Although it’s difficult when it’s obvious your dog is stressed, try not to let them know you are worried as it may make the problem worse. Stay calm, act normally and give lots of praise for calm behaviour. It’s OK to stroke your dog if it helps them relax, but sometimes it reinforces nervousness and fear, in that case try to redirect their attention.
- If your dog regularly gets especially upset, talk to your vet about using a calming product.
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