Boom! Oooo! Aaaah! Yes, that’s our reaction to spectacular fireworks, but your dog may have a different response. “Yipe!” is more like it. With the Fourth of July approaching, this weekend stacks up as the most dangerous for pets, believe it or not. Animal shelters always see a rise in strays because so many dogs will dash out the door or escape from the yard in an attempt to get away from the offending noise.  Here are a few things to consider to keep your dog (and your cat too!) safe if you know that your neighborhood will be hosting fireworks.

First of all, if you and your family are going somewhere to watch fireworks, please keep your dog at home. When I was a novice dog owner, I made the terrible mistake that so many people make – I took my dog with me to watch fireworks.  I thought, “Hey, this is a fun family event, why not let the dog share in the fun?” Wrong!  She shook so badly that I had to take her home after just a few minutes. So please, keep your dogs at home! And inside. Ensure that all of your doors and windows are closed and locked. Yes, windows too. Some dogs have been known to jump through the window screen in an attempt to get out.

If you already know that your dog has a noise phobia, take preventative measures. Administer a sedative from your veterinarian a couple of hours prior to the fireworks event. If you wait until your dog is already in a nervous state, it may be too late for the sedative to work.  You also may want to read my post about overcoming thunder phobia. The same techniques apply to fireworks as well.

If you haven’t seen any reaction from your dog to fireworks, congratulations!  You’re so lucky. But don’t take for granted that your dog may not acquire this fear at some point.  As dogs age, some become more sensitive to the noise. Take the same precautions as above by ensuring that your dog is safely in the house. You may even want to give your dog some melatonin or Benadryl which will make the dog sleepy. Consult your veterinarian for dosages for your dog’s size.  Or try Rescue Remedy, a flower essence which has been known to help some dogs overcome stress, or Composure, an herbal tonic.

Other things you can do: Play the television or radio loud enough to mask the noise, do some training or play some games with your dog, and most of all act as if there is nothing to be concerned about. As we know, our dogs are masters at reading our emotions.

Enjoy the Fourth, knowing that your best friend is safe and happy!