Certainly one of the most problematic and scary holidays for your dog is the Fourth of July with the sensory overload of explosions and bright lights. Most dogs don’t like loud noises and often panic at the whizzes and bangs.
Independence Day celebrations are great fun for people, but the loud noises and bright lights can be traumatic for dogs. The explosions, excited voices and visual stimulation create confusion and fear.
Animal shelters report that the July 4th holiday brings record numbers of runaway dogs to their doors. These dogs have been frightened and made frantic by fireworks. But by being aware and thinking ahead, we can keep our dogs as safe and comfortable as possible during Fourth of July revelry.
Here are some helpful tips for dog owners on how to keep their dogs safe and calm during July 4th festivities.
- If you are going to a fireworks display, leave your dog at home where he will be safest and most comfortable.
- Don’t leave dogs outside. If you cannot bring them inside, cover their outdoor crate or kennel with a blanket to offer them some protection from the bursts of bright lights and loud bangs. A dog’s sense of hearing is acute—over 10 times more sensitive than humans’.
- If your celebration includes drinking alcohol or beer, keep it away from your pet. Alcohol or beer can cause a dog to become dangerously intoxicated, go into a coma, or in severe cases, die from respiratory failure.
- Never leave your dog in the car. A partially opened window does not supply sufficient fresh air for him to breathe, and it creates an opportunity for your pet to be stolen.
- Keep your dog away from the front and back doors. Your dog may be under significant stress, which could result in unnecessary injury to others or cause him to dart out the door and become lost.
- Create a special area or “den” in your home where your dog feels safe. A properly introduced crate or kennel can be a calming refuge for him.
- Some dogs become destructive when frightened. If you don’t use a crate, be sure to remove items from the room that the dog could destroy or could hurt him if he chewed them.
- Keep windows and curtains closed to reduce noise and bright flashes.
- Turn on a TV or radio at normal volume to distract your dog from loud noises and help him to relax.
- If possible, stay with your pet during the majority of the fireworks. A dog often reacts more intensely to loud sounds and flashes of lights when you are not with him.
- Consider hiring a pet sitter to stay with your dog while you are away from home.
- Always keep proper identification securely fastened to your dog’s collar in case he gets out. Consider talking to your veterinarian about implanting a universal microchip in your pet, and make sure that your veterinary hospital and animal shelter have your correct contact information in their database.
- During daytime activities, you may put sunscreen or insect repellent on yourself, but don’t assume it is okay for your dog as well. For instance DEET can cause neurological disorders. What isn’t toxic to humans can be toxic to animals. Check with your veterinarian or other pet care provider for recommendations on pet-safe sunscreens and insect repellants.
Jeri Wagner is a canine behavioral therapist and master trainer. Jeri uses a natural training system leveraging the same communication methods – body language and voice control – that dogs follow as part of their instinctive pack mentality. Training takes place in the home where the problems generally occur. Jeri trains in western Montgomery county and northern Chester County. For more information, call 1-877-500 BARK (2275) or visit www.barkbusters.com.
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