The 4th of July or New Years Eve is a time of celebration, but it can be a stressful and scary time for our furry friends. Fireworks can cause dogs to become anxious, panicked, or even aggressive.
As a dog expert, I get asked often about what we can do to calm and comfort our dogs during this time.
This article will discuss some tips and techniques for calming down a dog during the 4th of July or any other time when fireworks are present. By following these simple steps, you can help your dog feel safe and at ease, even in the midst of the festivities.
Preparing Your Dog for 4th of July Fireworks
One of the best ways to calm a dog during the 4th of July or any other fireworks event is to prepare in advance. Here are some steps you can take to create a safe and peaceful environment for your pet:
Bringing pets indoors: If possible, bring your pets inside during fireworks displays. This will allow you to better control their environment and provide comfort and reassurance. If your dog is comfortable being crated, this can be a good option as well. Just be sure to give them enough room to move around and lay down comfortably.
Creating a safe space: Designate a quiet, secluded area of your home as a safe space for your dog. This could be a bedroom, bathroom, or other small room with no windows. Fill the space with cozy blankets, toys, and anything else your dog finds comforting.
Using white noise or music to drown out fireworks sounds: Loud noises can be especially distressing for dogs. To help drown out the sounds of fireworks, try playing white noise or soothing music in your dog’s safe space. This can help to create a sense of calm and security.
Close windows and curtains: To block out the sight and sound of fireworks, close windows and draw the curtains.
Update your dog’s identification: Make sure that your dog’s identification tags are up to date in case they become lost or scared and run away during the fireworks.
Exercise your dog: Tire out your dog before the fireworks begin by taking them for a long walk or play session.
Keep your dog on a leash: If you need to take your dog outside during the fireworks, make sure they are kept on a leash at all times.
Don’t leave your dog alone: Try to have someone stay with your dog at all times to provide comfort and reassurance.
Keep toxic substances out of reach: Many dogs stress eat and will chew up or consume things that they don’t normally touch. Be mindful!
Don’t punish your dog: If your dog becomes anxious or scared during the fireworks, do not punish them. This will only increase their fear and anxiety. Instead, try to provide comfort and reassurance.
If Your Dog is Already Scared By Fireworks
If your dog is already distressed by fireworks, there are several techniques you can try to help calm them down:
- Remain calm and reassuring: Dogs look to their owners for guidance and support, so it’s important to stay calm and reassuring even if your dog is panicked or anxious. Speak to your dog in a soothing tone and offer physical comfort (e.g. a big cuddle or pet)
- Create a safe, quiet space: Set up a safe, quiet space for your dog to retreat to, such as a bedroom or bathroom. Fill the space with cozy blankets, toys, and anything else your dog finds comforting.
- Use white noise or music: Playing white noise or soothing music can help to drown out the sounds of fireworks and create a sense of calm for your dog. (Some dogs even will just jam out to your favorite spotify songs!)
- Use calming pheromones or essential oils: Calming pheromones, such as Adaptil, can be helpful in reducing anxiety in dogs. These pheromones are naturally produced by mother dogs to calm their puppies and can be released artificially through collars, sprays, or diffusers. Essential oils, such as lavender and chamomile, can also have a calming effect on dogs. Just be sure to use caution when using essential oils, as some can be toxic to dogs if ingested.
- Distract your dog with toys or treats: Engaging your dog in a game of fetch or a puzzle toy can help to take their mind off the loud noises. Treats can also be a useful distraction, as long as they are used in moderation and do not contribute to any behavior issues.
Why Are Dogs Scared of Fireworks?
Dogs are often afraid of fireworks because they are sensitive to loud noises and sudden, unfamiliar sounds. The loud bangs, pops, and flashes of fireworks can be especially scary for dogs, as they may not understand what is happening and may feel threatened.
There are several signs that may indicate that your dog is scared of fireworks:
- Panting or rapid breathing
- Whining or barking (out of character)
- Trembling or shaking (though some dogs like Chihuahuas do shake a lot)
- Hiding or seeking shelter
- Pacing or restlessness
- Licking their lips or yawning excessively (genuine sign of distress)
- Vomiting or diarrhea (yikes)
- Seeking attention or comfort from their owner
- Attempting to escape or run away
If you notice any of these signs in your dog during a fireworks event, it is important to remain calm and try to provide comfort and reassurance. Don’t let their panic in turn, panic you!
Do Vets Prescribe Medications for Dog Anxiety About Fireworks?
If your dog is severely anxious or panicked during fireworks and you have tried other methods of calming them without success, it may be appropriate to seek medication from a veterinarian. There are several medications that can help to reduce anxiety in dogs, including anti-anxiety medications, anti-depressants, and beta blockers.
It’s important to note that medication should not be the first line of treatment for dogs with anxiety.
It’s always best to try behavioral modification techniques and other natural remedies before resorting to medication. However, in some cases, medication may be necessary to help manage your dog’s anxiety and keep them comfortable during fireworks events.
If you are considering medication for your dog’s anxiety, it’s important to consult with a veterinarian. They will be able to assess your dog’s specific needs and determine the best course of treatment. It’s also important to follow your veterinarian’s instructions and dosage recommendations when administering any medication to your dog.
Do NOT Give Your Dog Human Medication If They Are Frightened by Fireworks
It is never a good idea to give your dog human anti-anxiety medication. These medications are designed specifically for humans and may not be safe or effective for dogs. In addition, the dosages required for dogs may be different from those required for humans, and giving your dog the wrong dosage could be harmful or even deadly.
Human anti-anxiety medications can have a number of terrible negative side effects in dogs, including drowsiness, dizziness, dry mouth, and constipation. In severe cases, they can cause more serious side effects such as difficulty breathing, tremors, and changes in heart rate. They can result in death.
If you are concerned about your dog’s anxiety and are considering using medication to help manage it, it is important to consult with a veterinarian. They will be able to assess your dog’s specific needs and determine the best course of treatment, which may include medications that are safe and appropriate for dogs. Do not attempt to medicate your dog with human medications without the guidance of a veterinarian.
While You Can Take a Dog To See Fireworks…
You probably shouldn’t. As listed above it is just too frightening for them. Instead – why not celebrate at home?
Here are four fun activities you can do with your dog at home instead of taking them to a fireworks event:
- Have a movie night: Pop some popcorn and snuggle up with your dog for a movie night. There are plenty of dog-themed movies to choose from, or you can find a film with a calm and relaxing plot to help keep your dog calm.
- Set up an obstacle course: Create an obstacle course in your backyard or living room using household items such as chairs, blankets, and hula hoops. This will provide mental and physical stimulation for your dog and can be a fun bonding activity.
- Go for a HUGE hike the day of: If the weather is nice, take your dog for a hike in a peaceful, secluded area. This will give them the opportunity to get some exercise and fresh air, and can help to tire them out before the fireworks begin.
- Play an Olympics of dog games: Gather up some of your dog’s favorite toys and play a board game such as fetch or tug of war. This will provide mental and physical stimulation for your dog and can help to keep them calm and entertained. Your dog will likely win every gold medal!