Why are dogs so scared by fireworks, how to keep them calm

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Fido may not love fireworks — but The Post has some pro tips to get you through those explosive Fourth of July celebrations.

Patriotic pyrotechnics are the top cause of anxiety in dogs, with an overwhelming 71% of pet parents reporting that their dog is afraid, according to a new Rover survey.

A debilitating fear of fireworks ranked higher than separation, thunder, new people or other pets, going to the vet and car rides as the leading cause of pet anxiety.

However, only 16% of dog owners claim to have found distractions like games and treats helpful in attempts to calm their pets.

Instead, nearly 30% of pet parents confessed that they skip Fourth of July celebrations because of their dog and 38% admitted that they plan their celebrations around their dog.

Rather than skipping out on the festivities, here are some experts tips to help us humans understand and manage our dogs’ firework anxiety.


Fireworks dogs anxiety
The majority of dogs are afraid of fireworks as the flashes of light and loud sounds trigger a sense of danger.
Getty Images/Shutterstock

Why are dogs afraid of fireworks?

The bright flashes and loud booming sounds of fireworks set off a “flight or fight or freeze” instinct, which causes dogs to understand the celebratory explosions as a threat or potential harm and respond with dramatic fear and panic.

Veterinary Clinics of North America research published in Science Direct found that at least 40% of dogs have noise-related phobias.

Even more than scaring canines, fireworks can also physically hurt dog’s hearing depending on how close the animal is to the blast as they ring at 190 decibels.

What are the symptoms of firework anxiety in dogs?

  • A sudden alertness
  • Flattening their ears
  • Refusing to go outside or attempting to escape the house
  • Restlessness
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Panting
  • Excessive vocalizing (whining, barking, etc.)
  • Hiding
  • Becoming extra clingy

What are the best ways to calm dogs during fireworks?

The easiest and most effective way to keep dogs calm during a fireworks show is to stay inside and cuddle your pet.

Experts from Rover also suggest wrapping your furry friend in a pressure vest and distracting them with treats, games, music and white noise machines.

If none of these seem to help manage the dog’s fears pet owners can ask a veterinarian for medication to calm or mildly sedate Fido.


Fireworks
Pets can become slowly adjusted to loud noises and taught that these sounds may not be a sign of danger.
AP

Scared, frightened pets
The easiest and most effective way to keep dogs calm during a fireworks show is to stay inside and cuddle your pet.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Anxious dogs may become unruly and even try to run away to escape the anxiety-inducing situation so experts suggest that dog owners check that any tracking devices are charged and ready for the worst-case scenario.

While managing dogs’ anxieties surrounding fireworks is necessary for most, pet owners can also try to get man’s best friend to slowly become adjusted to the alarming flashes and sounds of fireworks with sound desensitization.

How do sound desensitization protocols work?

Pets can become slowly adjusted to loud noises and taught that these sounds may not be a sign of danger.

Sound desensitization is a training method that teaches pets that scary sounds can be predictable and fun. To begin the program, dogs should be cautiously be exposed to increased levels of sound until they are able random loud noises.

To prepare for fireworks specifically, experts advise pet owners to randomly play firework sounds while doing everyday things like playing with chew toys or performing part of your daily routine.

Some pets can become fully adjusted while others will simply become less stressed by these sounds.

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