Let's start with a "not fun fact": More pets are lost on the Fourth of July than any other day of the year. But have you ever wondered why dogs are so fearful of fireworks? Let's delve into the reasons behind this common anxiety.
5 Reasons Why Are Dogs Afraid of Fireworks?
Loud and Sudden Noises
Dogs have more sensitive hearing than humans, and fireworks produce loud and unexpected noises. The sudden bursts of sound can startle and overwhelm them, leading to fear and anxiety.
Unfamiliar and Intense Sensory Stimulation
Fireworks create bright flashes of light, along with smoke, vibrations, and strong smells of gunpowder. These intense sensory stimuli can be disorienting and frightening for dogs, heightening their anxiety levels.
Lack of Predictability
Dogs thrive on routine and predictability. Fireworks are unpredictable events that disrupt their sense of security and control. The irregular timing and sporadic nature of fireworks can make dogs feel uncertain and vulnerable.
Association with Negative Experiences
Some dogs develop a fear of fireworks due to previous traumatic experiences. For example, if a dog was inadvertently exposed to loud fireworks without proper preparation or support, they may develop a lasting fear response associated with those events.
Dogs are highly attuned to their owners' emotions. If owners themselves feel anxious or fearful during firework displays, dogs can pick up on these emotions and mirror them, intensifying their own anxiety.
11 tips to Keep Your Fur Calm and Safe
Understanding these reasons can help dog owners take proactive measures to keep their pets calm and safe during fireworks celebrations. By implementing strategies to minimize stress and create a secure environment, we can ensure a more peaceful experience for our furry companions. so How to Keep Your Dog Calm and Safe?
Never leave your dog alone at home: Fearful reactions can range from mild to severe, and in some cases, they can even lead to sudden death, seizures, or running away and getting injured. Therefore, it's crucial to have someone at home who can promptly attend to your dog's needs and seek veterinary care if necessary.
Walk your dog in advance: Avoid taking your dog outside during firework displays, as there is a high risk of them getting lost. If you're unsure whether there will be sudden fireworks, consider using dual leashes, such as a harness and collar combination, to prevent escape. Once the fireworks start, immediately head back home without insisting on bathroom breaks. It's better to clean up accidents at home than to risk losing your furry friend.
Consult an experienced veterinarian in advance: You can inquire about medications that help stabilize your dog's emotions. While there are various similar products available online, it's not advisable to self-medicate your dog, as some medications may have adverse effects on their liver. For instance, our dog Lele, who experienced seizures for the first time in late December, responded well to medication. However, the Lunar New Year fireworks were still a significant challenge. Although it was possible to discontinue one medication (levetiracetam), the vet advised against it until after the festivities, as the fireworks could trigger a seizure. Levetiracetam can also be used for emergency control of seizures within a day, as Lele tends to experience multiple seizures in a day, making it a high-risk situation. Therefore, higher doses of medication can be administered to prevent further episodes.
Secure doors and windows, draw curtains, and create a calm and familiar space for your dog: If you're taking your dog to a new environment during the celebrations, select the quietest and smallest space available. Use extra mats and blankets to prevent slipping and provide added comfort.
Provide a crate or carrier for dogs comfortable with confinement: Prepare the crate or carrier in advance, line it with soft bedding, and cover it with a blanket. Stay nearby to provide comfort to your dog.
Offer simple lickable treats: Provide interactive treat toys or lickable plates with a spread of canned meat or yogurt. However, be mindful of your dog's gastrointestinal health and avoid introducing excessive amounts of unfamiliar food.
Dress your dog in a snug, stretchy cotton garment: For dogs comfortable with wearing clothes, choose a slightly tight-fitting cotton outfit to wrap around them.
Prepare headbands or elastic bandages: These can be used to apply gentle pressure to the head during moments of heightened restlessness, which is highly effective for some dogs.
Play calming music: Search for relaxing music, such as alpha brainwave music, that can help drown out the sound of fireworks. Louder volumes can help mask the noise. Some dogs find comfort in hearing human voices, so turning up the TV volume can also be helpful.
Use soothing verbal reassurance sparingly: Speak softly and calmly, saying phrases like, "It's okay, you're safe." Avoid using anxious or hurried tones such as, "No, No, Stop!"
- Stay calm: Your own emotions can affect your dog, so try to remain calm and composed. Avoid showing signs of anxiety or stress as it can amplify your dog's fear. Instead, project a reassuring and relaxed presence to help your dog feel more secure during fireworks.
In summary, establishing yourself as an optimistic and carefree owner is more important than anything else when it comes to helping your dog cope with fireworks. By following these tips and providing a safe and comforting environment, you can help alleviate your dog's fear and ensure their well-being during fireworks celebrations. Remember, a calm and supportive presence can make a world of difference for your furry friend.
Q: My dog gets excited when they see fireworks and firecrackers. Is my dog normal?
Every dog has different reactions and emotions. Some dogs may become excited by the sounds and flashes of fireworks and firecrackers, while others may feel scared or anxious. The normalcy of this reaction depends on the individual dog's personality and experiences. If your dog behaves normally in other aspects and shows no signs of fear or discomfort, it is likely that they are simply curious or excited about the fireworks and firecrackers.
Q: Are dogs afraid of thunderstorms? Whenever my dog hears thunder, they jump onto me. Why?
Yes, many dogs are afraid of thunderstorms. Thunder is a sudden and intense sound for dogs, which can trigger fear and unease. Jumping onto you is your dog's way of seeking comfort and protection, as they see you as a safe haven and source of security during the storm.
Q: What is the hearing level of dogs? How does it compare to humans? Do thunderstorms and fireworks sound harsh to them?
Dogs have a remarkable sense of hearing, which is more acute compared to humans. They can hear higher frequencies and sounds from a greater distance. In comparison to humans, dogs have a higher level of hearing. Thunderstorms and fireworks may sound harsher to dogs because their hearing range is broader and more sensitive. Therefore, these sounds can evoke anxiety and fear in dogs.
TIPS from AVMA