The glowing fireworks on Independence Day are the highlight of the evening. But, unfortunately, most dogs see it differently: they whine, run restlessly and tremble through the area or hide in panic in the far corner.
Read here how to properly deal with your dog on the 4th of July and how you can help him and prepare him for the fireworks spectacle.
Shortcut To Useful Tips
- 1 Why do some dogs get scared during fireworks?
- 2 How can I tell if my dog is afraid of fireworks?
- 3 Advice & Ideas to Prepare your Dog for the Fireworks Noise
- 4 Immediate Measures against Fireworks Fear
- 5 Calm anxious dog during the shooting of fireworks
- 6 Can I give my dog calming medication on Independence Day?
- 7 Do you have Dog Puppys at home on Independence Day?
- 8 Not all dogs react the same to firecrackers and fireworks
- 9 Conclusion
Why do some dogs get scared during fireworks?
The 4th of July becomes a real challenge for some dog owners. The loud rockets, colorful firecrackers and exploding firecrackers can quickly upset even the calmest of canine minds.
But why do so many dogs get scared during fireworks displays? To understand the reactions, a brief look at the sense organs of the dog helps. Dogs are not only more sensitive to light than humans, but they also hear and smell much more than we do. This sensory overload ultimately causes panic in many a four-legged friend.
Dogs have sensitive hearing.
By way of comparison, humans hear frequencies between 20 and 20,000 hertz, whereas a dog hears between 15 and 50,000 hertz. Dogs, therefore, also perceive high-pitched sounds that we can no longer hear. Fireworks are, therefore, not louder for our four-legged friends, but they perceive many more sounds.
In addition, it comes that a dog never switches its hearing completely off. Even if he is fast asleep, the smallest noise can jolt him out of sleep, and he is immediately wide awake.
So for a dog on New Year’s Eve, two things come into play. On the one hand, he perceives the banging noises as a possible danger. On the other hand, the combination of volume and frequency of the noise – just think of a rocket taking off – ensures that furry noses experience these sounds much more intensively than we humans do.
Dogs have highly sensitive olfactory organs.
Humans have between five and 20 million olfactory cells, while dogs have an incredible 125 to 220 million. Many people think of fireworks only in terms of noise and lights. But for dogs in particular, who orient themselves mainly by their sense of smell, the odor pollution caused by fireworks is another stress factor.
Beware: the reaction to fireworks noise does not have to be the same every year. Your dog may have always seemed relaxed on the 4th of July, but the very next year, he may suddenly be very anxious.
How can I tell if my dog is afraid of fireworks?
While some four-legged friends simply withdraw or cuddle up to their owners in search of protection, others really panic. Typical signs of anxiety in dogs are:
- heavy panting
- flattened ears
- dilated pupils widened eyes
- loss of appetite
- Crouched posture
- Tucked tail
- Elongated mouth
At the latest, if your dog shows these symptoms on New Year’s Eve, you should definitely intervene and stand by him. But how do you calm down such an upset dog? After all, the fireworks outside can’t simply be switched off at the push of a button.
Advice & Ideas to Prepare your Dog for the Fireworks Noise
- Set up one or more retreats for your dog – a box, a blanket under the table, a cozy corner in the bathroom, etc. Familiarize him with this place a few days before, e.g., he always gets his food or chews there, etc.
- If possible, plan to spend that evening at home. Most dogs can handle this particular situation better in their own home than in a place that is foreign to them. Perhaps invite a few friends over. The happy atmosphere and the somewhat louder noise level in the house can, at best, additionally help your dog.
- Wearing a tight bodysuit helps many dogs. The light, continuous pressure on the chest and mid-body makes the dog feel “held” and helps him cope with his fears. Very well-known are, for example, the “Thundershirt” and the “Anxiety Wrap.”
- Get your dog used to it a few days in advance, and make sure that you put it on the dog when he is relaxed to get used to it. Don’t put this aid on your dog only when it pops, but regularly a few days before. Otherwise, he could link the wearing or already the putting on as a fear trigger.
- Also known and often used: Zylkene capsules to take orally, is considered a dietary supplement. Zylkene contains a natural active ingredient from casein, a milk protein. Seek early advice, such as from your veterinarian or a behavioral consultant.
- Also commonly used: is Calmex – a calming dietary supplement, also in capsule form. The combination of natural ingredients such as amino acids and psychoactive plant extracts can help reduce anxiety and stress in dogs. Seek advice early on, such as from your veterinarian or a behavioral consultant.
- Some dogs are helped by Melatonin: a natural hormone produced by a part of the diencephalon that controls the day-night rhythm in us humans. Melatonin is not a sedative, but it does have a relaxing effect on the dog. Please discuss the administration of melatonin with your veterinarian or a behavior consultant at an early stage.
Tip: Desensitize the dog to fireworks noises
In the days before the fireworks, you can try to desensitize your dog to the sounds of fireworks. For this, there are CDs or Videos with appropriate sounds. Also, on YouTube, one finds videos with such soundtracks.
“First, you play the sounds quietly, for example, when feeding. If the dog then interrupts eating, it becomes clear that the sounds have a higher significance for him than the food. If not, you can turn up the sound louder and louder and desensitize the animal in this way,” explains the dog trainer.
One has reached a good training success if one can lie down with the dog to sleep and he remains completely relaxed – although the CD runs. The human being can use earplugs here so that the firecracker noises from the stereo do not disturb the nap.
Immediate Measures against Fireworks Fear
As soon as the first fireworks are ignited, your dog reacts anxiously and becomes nervous. Then you should try the following tips and advice to take away your darling’s fear and minimize risks for him.
Always keep your dog on a leash on Independence Day
Even on New Year’s Eve, dogs must get exercise. However, to make walking as stress-free as possible, it’s best to walk during the day and in quiet places. Take your dog to the forest, for example, and avoid the big city, where the “banging” usually starts hours and days before the New Year. Keep an eye out – even after New Year’s Eve – for trash, broken glass and unexploded ordnance.
In addition, you should always leave your dog on a leash on these days. After all, you can be surprised by the loud bang of a rocket anywhere. You should not underestimate the danger of your dog running away from fright, not finding its way back or even running into a busy street.
Especially anxious dogs are not satisfied with the fact that they can hide in a quiet room. They need their caregiver near them at that moment to give them a sense of security.
Close doors, windows and shutters
The loud bang of fireworks, unfortunately, penetrates even through thick house walls. However, closed doors, windows and shutters can muffle the noise somewhat. Many dogs already calm down as a result. Some dogs also react nervously to the bright flashes of light in the sky. If you don’t have shutters on your windows, you should, therefore, at least draw the curtains.
Turn on the TV or radio
In addition to keeping your windows closed, you can try to drown out the fireworks sounds with other noises that are familiar to your dog. Play your favorite music or turn on the radio. Sounds from the television, washing machine or dishwasher can also have a calming effect on your dog. But don’t overdo it with the volume, as this could further unsettle your dog.
Distract with smells or special treats
Dogs who are not yet under too much stress or for whom it is the first Fireworks can sometimes also be distracted by special smells or particularly tasty “morsels.” The goal: is to get your dog to take his concentration away from his sense of hearing and focus it on his sense of smell and taste.
For example, you can lay an interesting scent trail through the apartment for your dog to sniff. Furry noses may also enjoy special treats that make them momentarily forget the fireworks noise. A Kong filled with cream cheese and briefly frozen can also be a good and relaxing distraction.
Radiate peace and serenity
The most important thing to remember with all of the above, however, is to remain calm and collected in everything you do. Signal to your dog that everything is fine, and show him that the noises outside are normal. If you yourself become nervous and frantic in the face of your dog’s reaction, all other assistance will be in vain.
Calm anxious dog during the shooting of fireworks
The assumption that you will reinforce the fear of the quadruped by comforting him is a mistake. Positive feelings cannot reinforce negative feelings. On the contrary: as with humans, the dog’s body secretes the “cuddle hormone” oxytocin as soon as it experiences affection.
This reduces the number of stress hormones, and the dog relaxes. The giving of affection by caregivers in fearful situations is called “social support.”
Therefore, never deny your dog the affection he seeks in such scary moments. Otherwise, the trust between dogs and humans can be severely damaged. As far as the right way to comfort is concerned, you, as the dog owner, are the experts. You know best what your four-legged friend finds pleasant and whatnot.
Can I give my dog calming medication on Independence Day?
No dog needs to suffer from anxiety or even panic! The downward spiral even leads to the fear of fireworks being added to the fear of anxiety. Thus, panic attacks can get worse each year.
For a dog with a low fear of fireworks, the above measures may be sufficient. Supplementary preparations declared as food supplements can be tried. These preparations have a natural calming and relaxing effect.
Zylkene contains an active ingredient derived from milk, which ensures well-being in newborns. However, a significantly higher dose is required to counteract the fear of fireworks than for normal therapy.
Other preparations work through the relaxing effects of Valerian and Green tea. They also contain tryptophan, a precursor of serotonin, the happiness hormone.
Pheromones against anxiety
Scent diffusers for the socket, sprays or collars that spread an artificial pheromone are also a possibility. This is modeled on a messenger substance of the mother dog, which she sends out to relax her puppies. There are also tablets with this pheromone, which can be used for a short time.
Since every dog is different in its health and behavior, please ask your veterinarian about possible supplements and their appropriate dosage.
Medication for dogs with extreme anxiety
For a dog with extreme fear and panic, these remedies are not sufficient! Please take care of possible medicinal support in time. Some preparations need to be slowly introduced days before in order to develop their full effect.
Caution: acepromazine is strongly discouraged!
Never and under no circumstances give your dog acepromazine! This neuroleptic and sedative may seem to work well from the outside, as the dog is calm, but it causes the dog to be paralyzed and, at the same time, much more sensitive to noise.
So the dog continues to be panic-stricken by the noises and is unable to fight back. The panic will increase with each passing year.
However, there are perfectly good anxiety-relieving medications that will help your pet get through New Year’s Eve without panicking. Approved for treating noise anxiety include dexmedetomidine in gel form or the antiepileptic drug imepitoin. Your veterinarian can help you determine the appropriate drug and dosage for your frightened dog.
For massive behavior problems, be sure to consult a veterinarian who specializes in behavior therapy.
Do you have Dog Puppys at home on Independence Day?
- In the course of the afternoon, do an exciting search and play excursion with your four-legged friend, preferably in the forest -there are hardly any fireworks let go. He should be nice and tired in the evening.
- Use the firecrackers as an ideal training, and make sure that your dog associates these loud noises with pleasant things such as fine treats chew toys, a massage, etc. Since these sounds are very sudden, this means you: always be ready, preferably a few hours before and after the expected banging.
- Do not stay near firecrackers or fireworks, especially with a young dog. The four-legged friend can get a shock for life at the first firecracker that happens near him or is even accidentally directed at him. Such a thing often happens faster than you can react.
- If the puppy falls asleep during the firecracker – all the better!
- Do not leave your dog alone at home under any circumstances. Your presence and calm nature will give him security.
Not all dogs react the same to firecrackers and fireworks
Fear is not equally pronounced in all dogs. Depending on how a dog is accustomed to these sounds as a puppy, it can later handle them better or worse. However, even dogs that originally got to know such noises as harmless can develop such a fear in the course of their lives.
Especially in old age, the sensitivity to noises such as thunderstorms, firecrackers and fireworks can increase significantly. In these cases, therapy is usually not successful, and it is recommended to support these dogs with medication. Improvement usually does not occur again until they can no longer hear as well at an advanced age.
And there are dogs of all ages that are very sensitive to fireworks noises or downright panic.
You can’t go wrong with noise anxiety prevention. No matter how well your dog supposedly handles loud noises and even fireworks, never leave him home alone. You never know if someone might set off a firecracker right outside your window. If your dog panics and can’t find shelter, the fear can affect your daily life for a long time.
It’s not a great strength of a man’s best friend to stay relaxed around fireworks, but luckily he doesn’t have to go through it alone.