Fireworks: Bad for Dogs

In the last year and a half, I have adopted three new dogs, which brings the current population to three dogs and one kitty. Why is this relevant? Because, in the last couple of days, I have learned that the new kids HATE fireworks.


For several years, I had hard of hearing senior dogs. Fireworks and other loud noises meant nothing to them. Elizabeth, the first to arrive of the new crew, doesn’t like loud noises, but is willing to ignore them. She curls up in her chair and pretends not to notice.


Oliver and Buddy are not so tolerant.


Some moron just set off firecrackers nearby, and it isn’t even dark outside yet. Oliver has been barking about it for five minutes now. A couple of nights ago, someone was setting off what sounded like BIG fireworks shortly after dark. Buddy went ballistic (you should pardon the expression). And when he has a fit, so do the twins. He barks, Oliver and Elizabeth bark. If he keeps barking, his voice is so big that the twins resort to howling to be heard over him.


The noise – both from the dogs and from the fireworks – is bad enough. And I can secure the twins in their playpen, where they feel safe. Buddy, however, has the run of the house, and when fireworks start booming, RUN is the operative word. He does laps through the house, bellowing all the while. He clearly thinks we are under attack.


Fireworks are a problem around here every Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve. It generally sounds like a full scale ground invasion with artillery. And pets HATE all that racket. July 5th and January 1st are the two biggest intake days for animal shelters all over the country.


So how do you keep your pet safe?


Well, ideally, you live someplace without fireworks. If that’s not an option, then you must take steps to protect your pet. Frightened pets will claw their way out of fences, slip out of collars, even break windows in the blind panic caused by the constant barrage of loud noises. Many a pet owner has come home late on the Fourth to either find their pet missing or their house demolished by a frightened pet.


A little planning can keep your pet and your home safe.


First, I strongly recommend not leaving pets home alone on a fireworks night if it can be avoided. Especially if you have a new pet, you need to be home to see how your pet will react to the commotion. Don’t just leave them loose and assume they’ll be fine – a normally well-behaved pet may run completely amok. Don’t stick them in a crate and think that settles it, either. I have known panicked dogs to hurt themselves breaking out of a crate.


The best thing to do is to turn on the tv or some music and settle in with your pets so that they realize you are calm and unworried. Do not reinforce the behavior by making a fuss or handing out treats when they get agitated. Give them something to do before they have a chance to get worked up – maybe a toy filled with treats to keep them busy.


If you must leave them alone, confine them in the part of the house where the noise will be the most muffled, and leave a tv on or music playing to help cancel out the noise. Again, leave them with something to keep them occupied.


If you have a pet that gets extremely upset about loud noises, I would also recommend talking to your vet about sedatives – for the pet, not for you. If you don’t know how your pet feels about fireworks, plan ahead. It is far better to have the sedative on hand and not need it, than to be desperate for something to calm a hysterical dog in the middle of a fireworks onslaught.


Our pets rely on us to keep them safe. Always make planning for their comfort and safety a part of planning any holiday.


Time to go put the twins in their playpen…

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