Infographic: Looking Out for Your Dog During July Fireworks

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Dogs and Fireworks: Basically, they don’t mix.

With their sensitive hearing, the intense noise of fireworks can cause many pets to panic and anxious ones have an even harder time. Please keep your pets safe in the coming days because the stats are alarming.

Missing Pets Skyrocket from July 4-6

There's a 30-60% increase in lost pets July 4-6.

“ July 5 is the busiest day of the year at animal shelters, as companion animals that fled in fright the night before are found miles from their homes, disoriented and exhausted. Anxious families often find themselves searching the streets and shelters looking for a treasured family member whose fear drove him to jump a high fence or break his leash or chain.” – American Humane Association

Only 14% of lost pets are reunited with their owners.


Make sure your dog has proper I.D.

Your pets should wear I.D. with their name and your current phone number. Also consider microchipping as a form of permanent I.D. Even if your pet loses their tag, shelters and vets can scan for a microchip and facilitate a happy reunion.

50% of dogs have a fear of loud noises.

Fireworks were reported (in 83% of those dogs) to cause fearful behaviors. This is more than any other loud noise (e.g. thunderstorms, though they are #2 on the list).

Only 4% of dogs who develop a sound phobia improve without help.

Pets can become sound sensitive even if they haven’t previously reacted to noise. Once a dog is “exposed” and develops fear, spontaneous recovery is very rare. Keep your dogs indoors on firework nights. This will limit their noise exposure—and they’ll find a safe, familiar place comforting.

sources: and

Common anxious reactions to loud noises

  • Barking
  • Hiding
  • Trembling/Shaking
  • Seeking out People
  • Escape
  • Panting
  • Pacing
  • Destructive Behavior
  • Peeing or Defecating
  • Howling
  • Running/Fleeing
  • Whining
  • Salivating

In studies, the dogs most prone to develop sound phobias:

  • Older Dogs: Why? The study we reviewed didn’t provide an explanation but some theories are that older dogs may be less able to manage stress or may actually be more sound sensitive. Decreased mobility and age-related cognitive issues may also play a part.
  • Autumn/Winter Born Dogs: The likely explanation: Unlike spring/summer borns, thunderstorms and fireworks weren’t part of their puppyhood so these events are more frightening to them.
source: (note, this was a British study with fireworks for New Year’s Eve being common. We extrapolated and changed the birth seasons to fit our summer fireworks in the US) 

What you can do to help

Keep your pets indoors on fireworks nights. Do not take them to a fireworks display.

Keeping them indoors will prevent them from direct exposure to the noise and will keep them safe in case the panic and try to flee. If they seem worried, it’s ok to try to calm or distract them. Just don’t act worried about them because that will feed their anxiety.

Escape proof your home in case of a panicking pet:
• Close and lock (or close and block) pet doors
• Screens won’t hold back a pet reacting in fear and trying to escape. Close screened windows and screened doors.

Give them things they love to keep them busy during the booms (so they won’t be as worried about the noise).

Stuff and freeze a Kong, bone or consider other long lasting interactive chewies like bully sticks, or appropriately sized elk antlers or Nylabones.

NOTE: Some pets may be too nervous to eat  but perhaps you can entice them to play with you as a way of distracting them from the noise. If none of that works, don’t force them. Shutting down a little is likely their way of coping with the loud sounds.

If your dog has already displayed sound sensitivity, be proactive and consider the following things that have been proven to help:

  • A Pressure Wrap* Thundershirt is the one that we recommend and have seen success with. It won’t make all anxiety disappear completely but it can certainly take the edge off for your dog.
  • Pheromone spray* Adaptil is a synthetic copy of the natural comforting pheromone released by a mother dog to reassure her puppies. You can spray it on bedding or a bandana. We recommend it to clients and the manufacturer has research to prove that it helps. Their site even has a 5-minute fireworks fear assessment tool 
  • Music Desensitization/counter-conditioning CDs like Through the Dog’s Ear to play while in the home (CD or download on Itunes) or Sound Therapy 4 Pets has a “Sounds Scary” (pre-fireworks therapy edition)” download on iTunes. If you have a puppy you can even try sound exposure on your own—when INDOORS play fireworks sounds at low volume for 30 sec up to 2 or 3 minutes and treat with food while listening to habituate your pup to this sound and prep the dog for future exposure.
  • Medication Consult with your vet or a Board Certified Veterinary Behaviorist for possible medication to help during acute situations such as the 4th of July. Note: Acepromazine which is a sometimes still prescribed for sound sensitivity-actually can INCREASE your dog’s sound sensitivity. See 1:50 mark here 
*Both Thundershirt and Adaptil come with a money-back guarantee from the manufacturer.


It’s sad to see dogs suffer from fear, phobias and anxiety but with their humans looking out for them and getting guidance from experts, it’s possible to help them cope.

If you live in the Greater Philadelphia area, feel free to pick our brain about your dog—no charge. To find out more one-on-one training, behavior consults or group classes visit

We hope all our readers and their dogs stay out of the fireworks fray and have a safe and happy 4th!

    1 comment:

    Op Barks said...

    You tube link to Dr. Karen Overall talking about use of Acepromazine for noise phobia/sound sensitivity: