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Celebrate July 4th Safely with your Dog

July 01, 2024
6 minute read
Celebrate July 4th Safely with your Dog - Whistle

While crowds gather to watch red, white and blue fireworks explode in the sky on the 4th of July, your dog may be cowering in a corner, shivering on the sofa or hiding under the bed waiting for the big bangs and bright lights to stop.

Some studies suggest that up to 50 percent of dogs are afraid of fireworks and other loud noises, which can make Independence Day celebrations feel less than festive for your four-legged friends.

Why are dogs scared of fireworks?

Fireworks are loud. The “bang” that erupts each time a colorful firework explodes overhead is the biggest reason that dogs are scared of fireworks.

The sound is much louder than most noises that your dog hears on a regular basis. Your dog might perceive the sound as a threat and start to feel anxious. The flashes of bright lights can also cause dogs to feel stressed.

You might notice that your dog is panting, packing, trembling, drooling or showing other signs of feeling anxious or afraid. A Whistle device will provide alerts that dogs are restless or engaged in excessive licking, which are also anxious behaviors.

Are fireworks dangerous to dogs?

Dogs that get too close to fireworks or sparklers during July 4th festivities could get burned and the trash left behind can include heavy metal, sulfur and other dangerous chemicals that could cause serious health issues if your curious dog decides to chew on leftover fireworks or discarded wrappers.

Fireworks displays also produce a lot of smoke, which can irritate your dog’s eyes and respiratory tract. Keeping your dog inside when the fireworks are going off and cleaning up the area before letting your dogs outside is the best way to protect their health.

How to Keep Your Dog Calm During Fireworks

It’s hard to escape fireworks during July 4 but there are strategies you can use to keep your dog calm.

Stay home

Your dog might love interacting with people and sneaking bites of hot dogs during 4th of July festivities but it’s important to take them home before the fireworks show begins.

Your dog is likely to feel extra anxious seeing the lights and hearing the noises up close. Since there is no safe place to hide, your dog may try to run off and could get lost. It’s safest to stay home and keep your dog indoors during fireworks.

Provide a safe space

Your dog will feel most at ease in a calming environment. If your dog is crate trained, put them in their crate with a favorite toy or treat; the den-like space is familiar and could help them feel more at ease while the fireworks are popping. Otherwise, choose a quiet space and close the windows and blinds to minimize the lights and noise from the fireworks to help keep your dog calm.

Drown out the noise

Watching TV with your dog, playing the radio or turning on a white noise machine or fan could help mask the sound of the fireworks. Research shows that white noise eased stress in dogs and was linked to fewer anxious behaviors like shaking, excessive grooming and whining during fireworks displays.

Shift the focus

Engage in fun activities designed to shift your dog’s focus from the fireworks. Offering your dog a long-lasting treat or a puzzle feeder, giving them a brand new toy or playing interactive games were the best ways to alleviate their fear response to fireworks, according to research. The goal is to make the environment so much fun that your dog is focused on having a good time, not waiting for the next bang.

Talk to the vet

Some dogs are so afraid of fireworks that medication may be the best option. Your vet can prescribe medication or recommend supplements or homeopathic remedies to keep your dog calm during fireworks shows. The key is making an appointment in advance so you have the medication you need before Independence Day.

Never give your dog over-the-counter medication without consulting with your vet. Some human medications, including CBD products that contain THC, are toxic to dogs and nothing is more stressful (for you or your pup) than spending the 4th of July at the emergency vet.

Play dress up

Pressure vests have been shown to have a calming effect on dogs. Although it’s not clear why the vests work, it appears that the tight-fitting vests help reduce blood pressure and heart rate, which alleviate stress.

Consider using a pressure vest along with other calming strategies like favorite treats and quiet time in their crates—and remember to dress your dog in their vest before the fireworks begin.

Work with a trainer

A dog trainer can teach you counterconditioning and desensitization techniques, which involve providing something positive, like praise or treats, after a loud noise. More than 70 percent of dog owners who tried this training technique during fireworks considered it effective for keeping their dogs calm.

It takes patience and practice to train your dog to have a relaxed, not fearful, response to fireworks. A few sessions with a trainer to learn the technique and ongoing training sessions at home can make a big difference every 4th of July when the fireworks begin.

Provide comfort

Some dogs who are afraid of fireworks want to hide while others seek comfort from their favorite people. Petting your dog with long, slow strokes and talking to them in calm, soothing tones is a good way to provide reassurance that they are safe.

In addition to keeping your dog calm during fireworks, it’s also important to keep them safe.

Some dogs may try to run away to escape the noise. In fact, more dogs go missing on the 4th of July than any other day of the year and just 14 percent of lost pets are returned to their owners.

Stay indoors

Make sure your dog is wearing a secure-fitting collar with an ID tag that includes their name and phone numbers, so that if they do run off, the person who finds them will know how to reach you. Your dog should also be microchipped in case their collar comes off; a dog with a microchip is four times more likely to make it back home if they get lost.

The Whistle Go Explore 2.0 and Switch Smart Collar include GPS tracking. The high tech devises use information from AT&T networks and local cell towers and satellites to pinpoint your pet’s exact location with updates every 15 seconds, so if your dog does run off when the fireworks start, you’ll know exactly where to find them.

Fireworks might be as American as apple pie on the 4th of July but the loud noises and bright lights can be super stressful for your pup. Having a plan to keep your dog calm when the fireworks begin is important to maintaining their wellbeing.

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