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Fireworks! Happy 4th of July!

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Fireworks are an important part of many celebrations, especially on the 4th of July. Most of us enjoy watching fireworks with friends and family as we celebrate this holiday. Unfortunately, dogs often do not share our love of fireworks. Bright flashes of light and loud bangs can be very frightening for a dog. Some dogs may suffer from noise phobia, a condition where they are extremely sensitive to loud or unfamiliar noises and may need to be treated by a veterinarian.

How can you tell if your dog is upset by fireworks? Look for these signs:

  • Trembling or shaking
  • Cowering
  • Hiding
  • Clingy behavior
  • Pacing, panting or whimpering
  • Destructive behavior such as chewing furniture or walls
  • Urine or bowel accidents
  • Running away

If you notice any of these signs, your dog likely is anxious and afraid. Their anxiety can be worse if they are outside or if they are with you at a fireworks display.

What can you do? There are several steps you can try:

  1. Leave your dog at home. Fireworks are special for people, but many dogs will be stressed or anxious.
  2. Create a safe space for your dog. A basement or bathroom can work very well, especially if there are no windows. Be sure to leave fresh water and a blanket or toys that he/she is familiar with. Their crate is another great safe space, especially if it is on an inside wall away from windows. If there are windows in your dog’s safe space, close the curtains or blinds to help reduce any stimuli coming from outside firework displays.
  3. Turn on the radio or television or use other white noise as a distraction
  4. Be there to reassure your dog, staying calm, even if they are not, to show them that there is truly nothing to be afraid of.
  5. Work to desensitize your dog. If you have a young puppy, consider making this part of your socialization training. Start slowly with low volume noises around your home and include recordings or televised fireworks displays. Gradually turn up the volume and include lots of praise and positive reinforcement when they are not afraid. With an adult dog, the desensitizing process often takes more time, but it can help.
  6. If you do need to take your dog outside during fireworks, make sure they have a properly fitted collar or harness with an identification tag firmly attached, and keep them on a leash. The 4th of July is one of the most common times for a panicked dog to run away from the firework display, possibly getting lost or injured in the process.
  7. Finally, there are medications available that can help reduce your dog’s anxiety related to fireworks or other noises. These medications are prescribed by a veterinarian and can be very effective.

At Blue Lake Animal Hospital, we wish everyone a very happy 4th of July! Please be safe. If you have any questions or concerns about noise-related anxiety, please give our hospital a call and our professional staff will be happy to help!

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