Fireworks Safety and Your Dog – 6 Ways to Soothe & Protect Your Pup
It’s Fireworks Season!
Most of us know it more as the time around Independence Day… but a lot of people use the entire month as an excuse to play with their favorite pyrotechnics.
I can’t blame them… I love them, too.
On the other hand, Boo & Lorelei really don’t care for fireworks, poppers, or noisemakers. Of any sort.
The poor Furries cower in their beds through the noise. So, we often skip getting to view fireworks to stay with them and soothe them.
For most of us, it’s impossible to keep fireworks from affecting our dogs.
Businesses and communities nearby put on displays. Neighbors set them off randomly.
Unless you live with your nearest neighbor a few miles away, your dog is going to have to cope with fireworks.
Since few pups enjoy fireworks, this post is about fireworks safety and your pet!
First, it’s best not to take your dog along where there may be fireworks set off.
The last place you want to be when your dog is startled by the noise is a crowded park or backyard.
Nearly every dog is super alert when in a crowd, even if they’re enjoying it. But add the fear of firework blasts, and your dog may not be able to handle it.
They may struggle against the leash. If they get away from you, it can be a terrible experience trying to find them in the crowd. Plus, a scared dog is more likely to bite the stranger who is trying to help them.
Then, not only is your dog traumatized, but you have a bite report — or worse.
Fireworks displays are just not a good place for your dog.
When your dog must cope with fireworks, there are several ways you can help to keep them safe and reassured.
One – Exercise
I’ve often said that a happy dog is a tired dog. Or that a well-behaved dog is a tired dog. Well, a relaxed dog is often a tired dog, too.
Getting plenty of exercise earlier in the day will help your dog to purge any nervous energy. With less energy to fuel their anxiety, they will cope with the startling noises more easily.
Without this pent-up energy, your dog is less likely to bolt to escape when they’re scared.
So, play a rousing game of fetch. Go for a long walk earlier in the day – long before sunset. A lot of people can hardly wait to set their fireworks off and so will start just as the sun is setting.
Two – A safe place
You want to have a safe room or crate for your dog. This is a place where they can feel safe and where they cannot hurt themselves.
When they’re nervous, they prefer to be with you. But if you’re not going to be available to sit with them either because you’re going to watch the fireworks, or you’ll have guests, you can create a safe place.
The room they usually sleep in is ideal — this is typically your dog’s favorite place to relax and where they feel the most secure.
You don’t want them to be able to escape because they may run away when startled by the noise. So, if you’re having guests – be sure to explain to them which doors to leave closed.
Three – the right environment.
Besides creating a safe place, you want to make the space as comforting and relaxing as possible.
Close all the windows to help minimize the sound. The closed windows help to muffle the sound.
If it’s hot out, it’s better to use air conditioning for your pup. If you don’t have central air and use a window unit, the unit’s motor acts like white noise to further dilute the booms and pops.
Lower blinds or cover your dog’s crate — this removes the visual stimulus that can make them even more anxious.
Some pet parents like to pile up pillows and favorite toys in the room – they create Fort Pup.
Four – Replace the Noise
The benefit of white noise is that it helps to block out other sounds and distractions. Even though your dog will still be able to hear the screeching of the fireworks, it may not disturb them as much with white noise.
White noise can “fill their ears” so they notice the louder sounds less.
If you don’t use a window unit for air conditioning, you can still use white noise.
You can use a fan, the radio, or even the television on a medium to lower volume. Water fountains and white noise machines work well, too.
Five – Alternatives
Browse any pet store, and you’ll find all sorts of options for soothing your dog.
Supplements, sprays, and even treats line those shelves. Each works for mild anxiety in its own way but will not help with extreme anxiety issues.
Supplements and treats may use a combination of herbal remedies and vitamins to help prepare your pup to cope with mild to moderate stress. You should start these a few days in advance to help build them up in your dog’s system.
Sprays rely on pheromones and aromatherapy to create a calming smell environment for your pup.
These remedies work with mixed results though. There is still a lot of new research in progress on the effectiveness of herbal remedies and vitamins on stress (and other issues).
Most of the completed research supports their use but aren’t conclusive for dosages. I’d consult a vet for how much is accepted as safe for a dog of your dog’s weight and breed.
Six – Vet Intervention
Speaking of vets – your veterinarian may have some solutions and advice for you as well.
For example, some vets may recommend Benadryl before sunset for your dog. Ours suggested we give Boo & Lorelei a half pill each at sunset for the entire week around the 4th of July.
But it’s important to check with your vet for dosing – your dog may need more or less. Some breeds may not tolerate it. Others may be on medication that can interact negatively.
Your vet can also prescribe anti-anxiety medications in some cases.
If you’re concerned that the fireworks are especially hard on your dog, make an appointment with your vet and outline your concerns.
There are probably more things you can do to help your dogs.
This is not an exhaustive list. But it’s important to note that it may not be enough.
Even with these precautions, it’s possible that your dog will spook and escape.
So, the absolute first thing you should do for your dog is to make sure that they are properly tagged. This will help to bring them home if they escape and get lost and confused in their fear.
With these steps and a bit of luck, your pup will weather the holiday in fine style.