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Does your pet run for cover any time fireworks boom, sizzle, and clap? It’s heartbreaking to watch and attempt to comfort a dog afraid of fireworks. In some cases, the fear and stress associated with these sounds can trigger a dog to develop a more serious phobia.

Around the Fourth of July or New Year’s Eve, fireworks will be happening in people’s yards, in the neighborhood, and at big events. If your dog is afraid of fireworks, the team at Westarbor Animal Hospital is here to provide some comfort, information, and steps you can take to keep your pet safe.

Noise Anxiety in Pets

Noise anxiety is an intense aversion to loud sounds. Dogs can have this too and this anxiety can be mild to severe. This aversion to loud, erratic noise can generate the following symptoms:

  • Trembling
  • Hiding
  • Urinating/defecating
  • Barking/vocalizing
  • Defecating/urinating
  • Chewing
  • Drooling
  • Panting
  • Pacing
  • Trying to escape

These behaviors can escalate and end up causing a pet to escape the home or yard and become lost. But why does this noise anxiety phenomenon happen in pets?

Our animal friends hear at a much higher frequency than we do. They may be able to detect a siren miles away that we can never hear. When you couple this keen sense of hearing with a loud and erratic noise source that they don’t understand, this can make them anxious and afraid.

Fourth of July or New Year’s Eve fireworks, while a definite source of noise anxiety in dogs, isn’t the only culprit. Some of these sounds can also trigger anxiety:

  • Thunderstorms
  • Sirens
  • Loud parties
  • Construction
  • Fireworks and firecrackers
  • Loud televisions or radios
  • Kids screaming

Basically, any loud sound can trigger an episode of stress, fear, and a fight or flight reaction in a four-legged pal with this disorder. This is why prevention and treatment are of the utmost importance when keeping pets safe this season.

Lessening the Fear of Fireworks

In order to treat your pet’s anxiety, make an appointment with your veterinarian. Some symptoms of fear are similar to physical medical issues, so make sure they are deemed in good health. If anxiety symptoms are mild, use the suggestions below about creating a soothing environment.

At home, prepare for the chaos with the following tips.

  1. Remove or minimize the triggers of noise phobia. This might include taking your pet somewhere where there are few fireworks or other celebrations or moving them to a secure, quiet area of the home.
  2. During the loud event, stay with your pet. Give them lots of distractions like toys and puzzles, as well as tasty treats and chew toys.
  3. Use a white noise machine, music that is calming to dogs, or radio or television not turned too loud. This will help mask the outside noise.
  4. It’s okay to let your dog hide under the bed or in a crate or closet if this helps them.
  5. Use calming pheromone sprays and products like Bach’s Rescue Remedy.
  6. Your pet may feel better in a Thundershirt, a snug-fitting vest that hugs the torso and alleviates fear.
  7. Keep all doors, gates, and windows shut and don’t go for a walk when the events are happening.

If the anxiety is more serious, our veterinary team can suggest other options such as calming treats or medications. Be sure to come to see us in advance for medications. If your dog has severe noise anxiety where they are clearly terrified, you may want to consider behavioral modification to help ease your pet’s stress. Speak to your vet.

And remember: Fourth of July is one of the big holidays when Animal Control is overwhelmed with calls about missing pets. Make sure your pet has accurate ID tags and microchip information, so they can be returned to you, should they get out.

Is Your Dog Afraid of Fireworks?

In a perfect world, we could completely prevent our beloved pets from being afraid. Or at least explain to them that they are safe from the noises. But since we exist in a world where these occasional loud sounds occur, the best we can do is to minimize the impact it has on our pets.

If your dog is afraid of fireworks and other loud noises, please contact us for an assessment and good suggestions for keeping them safe and calm.

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