Your Dog and Fireworks

Nothing says Fourth of July like parades, barbecues and fireworks. And while you might be looking forward to these celebrations, your pup could easily be dreading them, and in particular, the fireworks.

Many dogs are simply petrified by the lights and noise of fireworks. But with a little preparation and attention, your four-legged friend can get through the day without being traumatized.
If you know that your dog is particularly sensitive to fireworks, start planning ahead for the festivities by talking with your vet. There are some medications available that can reduce your pet’s anxiety. Your vet can tell you when and how much to start medicating your dog for optimum results.

On the Fourth, take time out from parades and barbecues to make sure your dog has been thoroughly exercised. A “pooped pet” tends to be a more relaxed pet. Even as you’re walking your dog, be aware that some people may be lighting fireworks, so make sure your dog is on a leash. Always have identification on your dog, or have him or her chipped so in case your dog does gets spooked and happens to get away, ownership can easily be determined.

Never take your pet to the fireworks, especially if you know loud noises and bright lights terrify him or her. Don’t tie your dog outside during the fireworks; rather keep your dog in the house with plenty of water available, as dogs drink more when they are stressed. Put your dog in a quiet, dark room, with favorite toys or blankets available. Sometimes “white noise” like a television or radio will provide comfort or reduce the sound of outside noise.

If you decide to forgo the firework festivities and stay home with your dog, be aware that they may still feel the reverberations of the celebration. Try to remain calm during the event, and reward your dog for staying calm as well. Try not to react adversely to your dogs’ possible distress; rather, help your dog relax with stroking and attention, if that is what your dog desires, or allow your pet to retreat to a safe place, like under the bed, in its kennel or in a corner.

Do not get agitated with your pet, instead be positive, and, of course, loving. If, despite all your efforts, you come home from the fireworks to an unhappy pet who has had an accident, torn up clothes or magazines or has been destructive, do not yell at your pet. It was probably the result of a once-a-year event, and tomorrow, with the quiet of the normal life returned, your pup will probably also return to good behavior and spirits. So enjoy the holiday… and help your pet enjoy it as much as possible as well. Happy Fourth of July!

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