As July 4 celebrations approach, it marks a time some pet owners dread as the fireworks cause severe anxiety for some dogs and other animals.
Social media the day after Independence Day is usually full of owners searching for their dogs who have fled their homes or yards in response to the booming sounds. The good news is there are methods of preventing or reducing this fear, according to Warren County Animal Control and Adoption Center director Sherri Bradley.
First and foremost, Bradley recommends bringing all dogs who are outside, inside during the prime times for fireworks. By bringing them inside, they will be at reduced chance of breaking loose and getting lost when they are frightened.
“Inside is the absolute safest place for your dog during fireworks,” advised Bradley. “Bring them inside or at least make sure they’re secured in a place that they can’t break out of, or hurt themselves trying to break out of.”
“Here at the shelter, we usually turn the music up a little higher so it blocks the sound out a bit,” said Bradley. “It creates a buffer between the fireworks and the dogs.”
An ideal setup for anxious dogs would be a quiet area of the home where music is being played with or without fans to create a sound barrier. Crate-trained dogs may find their crate to be their place of choice, so creating further sound buffering around their crate will give them the perfect place to lie low until fireworks die down.
Bradley has also seen success with Thundershirts and similar products. These operate by applying pressure, similar to that of a hug, to dogs wearing one. The pressure calms them and prevents some of the anxiety caused by the loud bursts. Homemade wraps can be made with T-shirts or ace bandages with lots of easy-to-follow instructions found online.
In the case of some animals who can’t be brought inside, such as horses and other large animals, Bradley recommends making certain they’re in an area where they cannot hurt themselves. “Horses can kick or break stalls when frightened as they’re a fight-or-flight animal,” said Bradley. “It’s a good idea to make sure that, wherever they are during fireworks, they are somewhere that there are as few hazards as possible for them if they do get frightened and try to flee.”