Summary: Integrative veterinarian Dr. Julie Buzby shares her complete guide on dogs and fireworks including how to keep your dog safe during fireworks season, Fourth of July celebrations, and in the summer heat. By the end of this article, you’ll have 14 safety strategies and a free “4th of July Hazards for Your Dog” infographic.
Is your dog scared of fireworks?
Dogs and fireworks go together like chicken salad and hot afternoon picnics. The sound of fireworks can be very stressful for pets, sometimes causing a fight-or-flight response. A dog may bolt to try to escape the intense noise. In fact, more pets are lost around the 4th of July holiday than any other time of year.
Before the fireworks start lighting up the evening sky in your neighborhood, get prepped with this ultimate guide to keeping your dog calm and safe during the fireworks displays and throughout all the seasonal festivities.
Dogs and fireworks: How to keep your canine companion safe and calm
1. Keep your dog safe indoors during fireworks.
Keep your dog indoors during fireworks and make sure he or she is wearing a collar with proper identification. Ideally, stay at home with your dog during the fireworks displays. If you’re having visitors, inform them that it is critical for your dog to stay inside, accounted for, and in a safe place.
2. Make sure your dog is microchipped.
Microchipping your pet and keeping your contact information up to date increases your chances of finding your pet should he or she become lost.
3. Before fireworks season begins, talk with your veterinarian about synthetic pheromones.
If your dog has mild anxiety, speak with your veterinarian about nutraceuticals (nutritional supplements) and/or synthetic pheromones. These products can help reduce anxiety, but don’t have the sedating effects of other medications.F
4. If your dog has moderate to severe anxiety, your veterinarian may recommend medications.
If your dog has moderate to severe anxiety or noise phobias, speak with your veterinarian well in advance of fireworks season. Many safe, effective medication options are available. It’s important to note that you should never treat your dog with your own medications.
5. Diminish the sound of the fireworks by playing calming music.
If your dog is fearful of loud noises, lessen the sound of the fireworks by playing music as white noise. There’s now a cadre of data that music can be helpful in reducing stress and anxiety in pets. If you don’t have a specific dog relaxation playlist, classical music or country music are two other options. Turning up the TV is another alternative. Of course, not so loud that the volume is a stress in and of itself—but enough to diminish the impact that the sound of the fireworks is having on your dog.
6. Create a safe space where your dog is most comfortable.
Provide a safe haven for your dog. If he or she likes the crate, it can be a safe den-like space. Some dogs even like to retreat to a closet. Any location where your dog feels some security will be helpful to your dog as he or she gets through the noise phobia.
7. Try a body wrap before the fireworks begin and when your dog is still calm.
Some pets are calmed by body wraps such as the Thundershirt®. For more information on how to use a comfort wrap for maximum calm, please follow Thundershirt’s® four tips for best results.
In addition to fireworks, there are other hazards that dog owners need to be especially aware of during the summer months. From Independence Day barbecues to scalding water shooting out of a hose, summer days are filled with hidden dangers that can harm your dog or cause your dog stress. Here are seven hidden hazards and strategies for keeping your dog safe and happy.
7 summer hazards and how to keep your dog safe
1. Leftovers and table scraps
Ingestion of table scraps may cause your dog to have an upset stomach. Symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhea, and inappetence. Additionally, this could develop into a more serious condition known as pancreatitis. This is a very painful and life-threatening condition where the dog’s pancreas becomes inflamed. In addition to table scraps, watch out for these hazards:
- Skewers from kabobs. They can puncture your dog’s stomach or intestines if they are swallowed.
- Corn cobs. They will not pass through your dog’s intestinal tract and require surgical removal if ingested.
- Garbage. Lastly, make sure your dog does not get into the trash. The lingo we use for this in veterinary medicine is “garbage gut.” Depending on the contents in the trash, this can be a life-threatening emergency. Typically, symptoms may include gastrointestinal signs, vomiting, inappetence, and diarrhea.
Keep alcoholic beverages out of reach of pets, and do not leave your drink unattended. Consumption of alcoholic beverages can cause dogs to exhibit neurologic symptoms—including coma, in severe cases.
Heat stroke in dogs is a life-threatening medical emergency. Symptoms of heat stress—the stage before heat stroke—include panting, drooling, and weakness. Additionally, the dog may seem disoriented, show GI signs, start vomiting, and even collapse. Breeds with flat faces, such as bulldogs and pugs, are at a greater risk for heat stroke. (For specific tips on how to beat the heat, see the infographic below.) Also, some dogs may have a very serious, life-threatening medical condition called laryngeal paralysis where they really can’t pant and move air normally. (For detailed information, please check out my article: Laryngeal Paralysis in Dogs.)
4. Insect repellants
Insect repellents that are not labeled for pets can cause symptoms including drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and neurological signs including muscle tremors and seizures. Keeping your dog current on monthly veterinary-prescribed heartworm and flea/tick prevention is the best solution to combatting insects.
5. Citronella candles & tiki torches
Besides the obvious burn risk that citronella candles and tiki torches present, citronella can harm dogs’ gastrointestinal and nervous systems. The fumes can cause lung irritation. Keep citronella candles and tiki torches away from pets.
6. Lighter fluid and liquid matches
Matches contain chemicals which, if ingested in sufficient quantities, can damage a dog’s red blood cells and cause gastrointestinal upset. Lighter fluid can irritate your dog’s skin and mouth upon contact and also cause gastrointestinal problems if ingested. Do not use these products around your dog.
7. Glow sticks and glowing necklaces
If ingested, chemicals in glow products can cause drooling—which is a common sign of nausea—and stomach irritation. Also, the plastic, if ingested, can cause an intestinal blockage which may require surgery. NEVER put glow products on your dog.
4th of July Hazards for Your Dog: Infographic
I know how important it is to you to keep your dog safe and healthy during the 4th of July, throughout the summer, and every day of the year. As a pet parent, our fundamental job is to keep them safe and give them loving care. I hope this information helps you help your dog enjoy a happier, healthier summer together.
What fireworks or summer safety concerns do you have for your dog?
Please comment below. We can all learn from each other.