Taking the Stress Out of Fireworks

Taking the Stress Out of Fireworks

Bing, Bang, Boom! It’s that time of year again. That’s right-FIREWORKS!

July comes in with an explosion of dazzling lights that is sure to bring out your Patriotic spirit as well as that twinkle in your eye. Now, go ahead, cue the ooh’s and aww’s. But it’s no secret, dogs HATE fireworks-well at least some dogs anyways. Yet, if you are the owner of one of those “some,” then you have experienced the shaking, panting, puddle that was once your best friend.


But what in the world can you do? Here is your dog, feeling like they are serving a tour in a war, and no amount of coddling seems to help. At this point, you are stressed. You suffer through the lack of sleep, partially due to the concern you feel, but MOSTLY because it is impossible to drown out the perpetual panting and restlessness.  It’s enough to ruin the Independence Day celebration and make you wish fireworks were outlawed. Who needs sparklers and a grand finale anyways?


The answer- you do! The 4th of July is fundamental to our nation and serves to bring friends, family, and Americans together. Don’t deprive yourself of basking in the red, white, and blue. It’s time- it’s time to get freedom for you AND your pet! Here are the top ways to ease the firework stress:


First and foremost-PLAN AHEAD! You know it’s going to happen. You were able to breathe easy all the way through December, but its July now.  Plus, you’ve probably already tried comforting your pet during the show. Did it work? If so, great! If it didn’t, it’s not your fault. Despite the fact that you care so much, your dog is already worked up. So start by-

  1. Desensitizing your pet to noise- perhaps try using a CD of firework sounds before the season even starts. Play it softly and reward your dog for ignoring the noise. Make it a positive experience instead of negative.


  1. Microchip your pet- the number of lost pets spikes around the 4th of July. In a panic, dogs may try to run and if they unfortunately succeed, you will want the best chance to recover them. Microchips provide this benefit. If your dog is recovered by a stranger and brought to a local veterinary hospital or shelter, your information will be scanned. How do you get a microchip? Well, it’s easy. Just visit your veterinarian and they can chip your dog quickly and easily.


  1. Prepare the house- many dogs when they are frightened may attempt to destroy personal belongings and furniture. Remove anything that your pet may be able to ingest or destroy. This prevents the heartbreak of finding toilet paper skewed throughout the house and your favorite pair of socks in your dog’s small intestine. In addition, leave lights on and cover the windows before the fireworks start. This helps to limit the fear associated with the flashing.


  1. Create a Safe Place- Stories of dogs hiding behind toilets and under the sofa are all too familiar, so give them a designated place where they feel safe. This could be a crate with a blanket over top or a bed down the basement. Any number of places will work, just find one that works best for your dog.


  1. Ask Your Veterinarian about Medical Intervention-Veterinarians have an entire toolbox of ways to help your pet. When appropriate, they may be able to prescribe medications. Ask your veterinarian about the difference between sedation and anxiety medication and what might be best for your pet. This may just be the #1 way you can truly help your pet. Just make sure to follow your veterinarian’s instructions and give the medication before the fireworks start so it has a chance to take effect.

Now that you have done the prep work, it’s time to help your pet out during the fireworks.


  1. Play Background Noise- soft music or the television can help to lessen the noise impact of the fireworks.


  1. Have Someone Keep an Eye on Them-Hire a dog sitter if needed. The important thing is that your pet feels secure and protected. Having someone around also ensures that they don’t hurt themselves or your belongings.


  1. Keep Them Busy-Does your dog have a favorite toy to keep them busy? Kongs and other hard rubber toys that can be filled with food like peanut butter can help to distract your pet from what is occurring outside. You may also be able to use ice cubes to the same effect.


  1. Finally Take a Breath- Being stressed out only feeds into your dog’s anxiety.


Follow these steps, especially number five (hint, hint) and go enjoy the holiday! And from all of us here at the IVMA, we wish you a happy 4th of July!