You can’t say the Fourth of July without thinking fireworks, and while Independence Day isn't until Tuesday, folks will likely be shooting them off this weekend.
Of course, they can be fun - but sometimes quite scary for pets, especially dogs.
The Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve are two days when pets go missing the most, largely due to being frightened by fireworks and running away.
If this is the first Fourth of July with your dog and you're not sure how they will react to the sound of fireworks, or if you have had a bad experience in years past, these are some way to comfort your pet and keep them safe.
“The Fourth of July is kind of notorious for a time of year that’s really busy for animals to turn up at animal shelters because a lot of animals really get freaked out by the sound of fireworks,” says Allison Maier of the Idaho Human Society.
Lexi, a two-and-a-half-year-old black Lab, is one of those dogs.
Thankfully she has never escaped but she shakes and cowers at the sound of fireworks.
“We took her outside out front and just sat with her to see if she would calm down and could tolerate some of the small neighborhood fireworks and she really just was so scared. She was shaking in between us, we were trying to get her to calm down and then after the first big boom went off she ran straight to the door. After we got her inside she ran underneath the coffee table and shook and cowered so it was very sad we couldn’t get her to calm down after that,” says Lexi’s owner, Kaylee Johnson.
And it would be months before Lexi completely recovered.
“We took her on runs and walks and she would duck underneath the trees and hide from them because she really thought the fireworks were coming from the trees,” explains Johnson.
This year Johnson is trying something different: getting medication from a vet.
“The vet said that I would give it when I got home from work around seven on the Fourth of July and what it would do is she wouldn’t go exactly to sleep but she would be aware of what’s going on and just more calm, almost like an anxiety med for a dog. When we went to go get her medication this morning they said they were handing out about 10 prescriptions a day to dogs for fireworks,” says Johnson.
If you don't want to go the medication route, there are other methods to calm your dog down.
Maier says to keep a scared dog locked inside.
“Make sure the window and blinds are closed so they can’t see anything outside and anything like radios, fans to create background noise and then also if there is like a puzzle feeder or Kong, something that, can distract their mind a little bit that can also help,” says Maier.