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Fireworks and Fido: Keep Your Dog Safe

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Dog running in grassMany summer celebrations include the artificial thunder and lightning of fireworks.  Even the calmest of dogs can panic from these rumbles and flashes.

Tips to Secure Your Dog

To protect your dog’s security and peace of mind, don’t bring him* to fireworks displays.

  • Close the windows, blinds, and curtains.
  • Create some white noise by leaving a radio playing softly or a fan running on low or medium speed.
  • Any pets not allowed in the house should be sheltered in a garage or basement with a comfortable blanket and a supply of fresh water.
  • Be sure that every pet wears an identification tag on a securely buckled collar.  Consider having him microchipped for extra safety.

*If normal thunderstorms frighten your dog, don’t leave her alone if there are fireworks near your home.

Update Your Pet’s Identification

What if your dog tries to escape the fireworks monsters? He might crash through a window, chew through his leash, or even climb a fence. He might run right around to the front door to wait for you, but he is more likely to keep running.  Animal shelters and veterinary clinics are extra busy on the days following fireworks. They’re dealing with frightened and injured runaways and fielding calls from frantic pet parents.  That ID tag can be your dog’s ticket home.

How do you keep your pet safe during fireworks celebrations?

Comments(53)

Linda S

I use a product called Rescue Remedy from a health food store. It helps keep my dog calmer than he would be without it. He gets very stressed by thunderstorms and fireworks and this seems to take the edge off.

Kim

I have a Yorkie. How much do you give?

Tammra

It is all natural made from flowers - the first time I gave it to my dog who weighed about 16 pounds was 5 drops - he seemed to still be stressed about 40 minutes later so I gave 5 more drops and he seemed to settle. It is available in drops and a spray but it explains it all on the box. I love it and my dog actually likes the dropper because he understands what it does for him.

Cindy J

I wrap my 2 dogs in their thunder shirts, which helps tremendously! They wear them for thunderstorms and fireworks.

Janet

Thunder shirt doesn't help my shitsue

Julie C

The "Thundershirt" works very well and it isn't a medication. Before we got the "Thundershirt", we used Benadryl (1 mg per pound of dog , but check with your vet. My dog weights 40 lbs so my vet said to give her 2 of the 25 mg tablets). I hope everyone has a wonderful and safe holiday. God Bless.

Athena S

Rescue remedy does not work for my dogs. Not even a little bit. I guess it's a case by case deal.

susan

Where do you get Rescue Remedy - would love to try it for our dogs. Any health food store?

Geni

You can find it at Sprouts Susan in the medicine and supplements aisle. Read directions as to dosage.

Shoelady

Hi,

The product Rescue Remedy you mention, is this human health food store?

Shoelady

Hi, the thunder shirt do not work for my ShihTzu, the Rescue Remedy I found at Vitamin shoppe, it calm her just a little where she wasn't shaking but she was still panting.

bob j

have you tried a "thunder shirt"?. it seems to help as well

Paulette L

Good idea. I tried the thunder jacket and it calms her when it's not a firework night. Do they have it in liquid or pill form. I only found gum. thank you.

Bonnie

We set up a soft crate used only for this purpose.

We crate trained our Aussie in the car from the time she was a young puppy, so the crate became her safe place. Although she has full run of the house and the only time she is in a crate is in the car and at dog events, she seeks the safe dark cubby of her safe crate. During a recent BAD thunderstorm, she even fell asleep in the soft safety crate in between waves of storms....a HUGE step for her!!! Usually she would stay awake and pant until it was over or morning came. At first we had to help her into the safety crate as she was trying to climb in anything including the fridge!!! Now once she sees it she runs into it, we zip it up and stay close to her for reassurance :-)

Melissa R

Linda, how many drops do you give your dog? (And how big is your dog?) Thanks!

Dena Calivas

You can find the Rescue Remedy online in several locations - just google it. I tried posting the link below , but it got blocked by the website. The amount of drops you give your dog is revealed in the packaging. It has worked for a while then stopped working for us. We've also tried the Thundershirt - didn't work. We just put on spa music - tends to help. And we never leave her alone in a storm.

patrick t flynn

I do all of the above plus use the Thundervest, it does help but not eliminate their fear of thunderstorms & fireworks,
on the 4th of July even though illegal we still have inconsiderate people who insist on using fireworks so I give Bridget
my Golden Retriever a mild sedative, just hate to see her so scared and troubled.

Brenda

We stay in the AC, Snuggle on the bed with lots of blankets & watch tv together. I couldn't enjoy the fireworks knowing how upset she was anyway.

Cindy J

My 2 dogs wear their thunder-shirts, which help tremendously! Fireworks and thunder really stress them out and these shirts calm them down.

Lindy

Thunder shirts are good for inside dogs but not dogs that are kept outside in hot weather. They are already hot and putting a shirt or vest on them would be in humane

Priscilla Clements

Why doesn't PetSmart start a campaign to ban fireworks in Florida (other than commercial displays?) There are a massive amount of boneheads (no pun intended) in this state who have no regard for the animals around them as they blast off their illegal bombs.

You start the process, I'll get on board.

Anonymous pet LOVER

Wow.... This is why ppl can't enjoy anything anymore... I understand it hard on them... Move somewhere or find your own solution to help ur pups anxiety.

Lynne Nowlan

Pricilla, fireworks have been illegal in Illinois since I was little and it doesn't stop the "boneheads" from shooting them off anyway. Your best bet is to try to find something that works to keep your dog calm. Good luck!

C

I use a product called the "Thundershirt" it works well. My old guy seems to do better with it. He is still a little bothered, but the Thundershirt along with the TV noise him.

Virginia

I put a Thundercoat on my Siberian and put her in the laundry room with her favorite toy and water. She can't see the flashes of light. This keeps her calm and comfortable

Trava

For my little dog I bought a ThunderJacket and a Claming spray for her bedding. They work fantastic! The jacket helps to keep her calm and the spray is just a little added protection especially during the 4th of July celebrations.

Tricia

I've found that Melatonin also works really well for noise related fear. One of my dogs is afraid of everything and for the other things that scare her I swear by Rescue Remedy.

Zxy Atiywariii

Both my dogs love watching fireworks, and yours can too, if you teach them it's a positive thing. Dogs can learn that these loud noises mean they're going to get special treats, or extra attention, or a chew stick, or whatever they most enjoy. Training a dog to associate fireworks with good things, also "storm -proofs" the dog, so thunder won't frighten them. Be calm and happy, never "comforting" (as tempting as this is) or the dog will think he/she needs comfort. Start early and be consistent. Use the weather forecasts to set up training sessions for your dog: at every thunder strike, act happy and treat your dog (even if you hate thunder yourself, like I do). It's wonderful to have dogs who can enjoy Independence Day with us. :)

Maria Alejandra...

I'm sorry but, I have to disagree with you. My dog was never bother by thunder or anything else until last Summer when he was 8 years old; I ask his vet, and she told me that it is pretty common for dogs that suffer from separation anxiety ( which in labs and goldens is common) to develope thunderstorm anxiety when they get older. And yes, you can help them to be calmer, using some of the tips you provided but their anxiety is a condition not a learn habit that you can change with training. And sadly it is very difficult to reason with a dog, and make them understand that it is ok. So, I'm happy that both of your dogs are ok with it but, please don't give you credit for that fact , they simply don't suffer from anxiety .

Christina

I know what you mean. Ever since my dog was a baby, I have watched stormy weather and fireworks with her. I always act happy and excited when we watch the storms through the window and point out to her all the water coming down, she loves water, and when we watch the fireworks I always point out out all the pretty colors, so she has no problem doing either

Jill

Zxy, thats WHY my dog is phobic of fireworks! I got him on june 16, 2008 and he was doing great with his clicker training (he is now my seizure alert/response and psych Service Dog) so i had a "brilliant idea" to make him a fireworks party.... our neighborhood collects in my cul de sac to fire off fireworks in july and on NYE. So i got high value treats, put his leash on (thank god!) And got his clicker and at dusk went and sat on my front porch. I began asking for sits and downs and treating. I didn't think they sold flash bangs and mortar shell fireworks to civilians so i figured it would just me sparklers and roman candles, more light than noise. They light the first one, he was fine as i fed him non stop as the firework went sky ward, then a bright white light and a deafening "crack bang" sounded out. My pup bolted and if i didn't have a leash on him i'm not sure i would have been able to catch up to him. I tried to bring him back and get him to sit but the damage was done. He was shaking, peeing, deficating. I didn't coddle or try to comfort him and he was refusing to eat treats. Hes 7 now, and an awesome service dog. I don't live where i hear to many gunshots, but if he hears a gun or even a very far away "pop" from a lone firework he refuses to go out to potty for several hours. And then he'll stand in the open doorway and listen for a few minutes...before he'll go out if he doesn't hear any. Firework nights i take him out to potty just before dark, and give him 100mg of l-theanine 30 minutes before dark. Once the fireworks start, he goes either under my bed or into the tub and waits them out. Its usually around 3-4am before all the yahoos who set fireworks off stop. I can't even imagine why non pro display fireworks are even still allowed, if for nothing other than just for the sanity of our war heros who have PTSD, not to mention noise phobic dogs!

Carol Keith

Try a Thundershirt. They don't work 100% but, like the Rescue Remedy, they help take the edge off your dog's fear. I use them together.

Denise

I have had many rescues and my most recent is absolutely freaked out by thunderstorms so I can only imagine how she will be for the 4th of July! I actually use the Thunderstorm jacket (at almost every pet store) and she calms down tremendously!! I really didn't think it would work - but it does!!

Debbie

Thanks so much Im going to look for some today cause she is a nervous mess. Even doing storms an she is a house dog. Have a good fourth Thanks

Dolores

I started when she was very young. When the thunder started, I took out a bag of treats and started doing some behaviors with her. I took that time to practice her sits, downs, comes, etc. Every time she did one behavior a treat followed. Now when the fireworks go off, she just thinks that it's going to be behavior practice time followed by her favorite treats that she only gets during this time. Of course, it did take me a long time to condition her to this. It did not happen overnight but with my persistence and gentle encouragement she doesn't seem to mind all the commotion anymore. I just managed to get her mind on the training and even some tricks and she seemed to forget what was going on outside. I also leave the radio on tuned to a Christian station not a rock and roll one and that seems to keep her calm also.

Karen

I let my pooch hide in her safe place - under my bed.

Terry

I that sounds like a good alternative to aceprolazime. that will put my dog out for too long. where can I get this product

Anne S

Thank u! I have always wondered about the wisdom of owners who bring there dogs to watch the fireworks and w a new puppy in the family we will keep her safe and sound at home this 4th.

L

I agree with exposure and treats. This has been a bit difficult for me since I've come to realize I don't always like thunder storms. With a puppy, I would take the opportunity to expose them to the noise and crowds assuming that they are current with shots and you have them on a sturdy harness. Plan on leaving early or moving further away from the activity if it becomes too much.

Rescue Remedy is safe for even cats and the package says it can be used on large animals also. They also have a people version. (Not sure from their site if the people version can be used on animals or not since some of the people version is in brandy.

For a puppy you'll need to be eyes-on full time, but I think the noise exposure and people time is worth the benefits of developing a pet who is comfortable around noises and lights. I live in the South and have neighbors who come home during unexpected thunder storms because their animals freak with the storms.even if they are otherwise kept kenneled.

Tammy

We've used a ThunderShirt for the last year or so and it has been a huge help with keeping our dog calm during fireworks, storms and doorbells

Scout Lee

We have rescued and fortunately found owners of three dogs who got out on different July 4th weekends. This occurred in THREE different past years. One dog jumped a back yard fence because he was so frightened - owners left him outside while they went to watch fireworks themselves. The second dog got out a driveway gate that was not well secured and again owners left him outside while they were out for the evening. Third dog broke out of the house through an open window that had a SCREEN on it BUT he broke through the screen and jumped out. PLEASE put CATS and DOGS indoors with doors and windows CLOSED on July 4th weekend. The THREE dogs we found were very lucky to get safely back home but many others may not be so lucky. Fireworks really are very frightening to animals.

Eileen

I use the thunder jacket for storms and fireworks. my dog now gets his jacket at the first clap of thunder.

Kai

So if I wanted to bring him should I bring a thunder jacket

Jennifer

I've tried a thundershirt, pheromone calming spray, and calming treats and none of them have worked for my 20lb rescued corgi/terrier mix. My husband & I don't want to go the route of sedatives just yet. Does anyone know what store sells this Rescue Remedy that is being spoken about?

Gator

My vet recommended ACE. All vets have that medicine.

Joy W

Thunder shirts did not work for my miniature schnauzer at all. He is a rescue and is terrified of thunderstorms and fireworks. In the past, we have tried valium, xanax, or acepromazine from the vet. We only get minimal results from any of those medications.

We have made a "nest" under the clothes in a walk in closet. The closet is located in the center of the house, so it is the quietest place we have for him. The nest is made of clothes that we have worn and have our "scent" on them. We also put his favorite stuffed animals with him. He trembles so badly that he cannot stand during the thunderstorms. His eyes turn glassy and he hyperventilates the entire time. We know not to "coddle" him during the noise as that would only reinforce this behavior. So we "herd" him into the closet, turn on the light over the whirlpool, put his favorite stuffed animals with him and leave. If he comes out, I ask him, "where do you belong?" He turns around and slinks back into the closet.

We had to put books under our upright chest of drawers. He used to crawl under there and not be able to get out after the storm would subside! We would have to tip the dresser backwards so he could crawl out!

Sheri

I always take my dogs to fireworks and make sure to bring lots of yummy treats. When they hear fireworks they dot panic they come to see if it's time to go for a walk or get treats

Geni

Susan you can find Rescue Remedy at Sprouts in the medicine or supplements aisle.. Read directions for dosage.

Diane Knotts

Bought a Thunder shirt several years ago but with no success. My golden looked good but it was ineffective. Bought some capsules with triptophan, St. John's wart, chamomile and Valerian root that were called Happy Traveler. Got them at Red Bandana pet store in Atlanta area . They were $9.99 for 30 capsules. You are to give 1 per 25#. Our Lucy weighs 75# but she only gets 2 capsules. I open up them and mix them into 1 - 2 Tbs. of plain yogurt. She laps it up. Within 20-30 minutes, she gets relaxed and calmer eventually sleeping. Can be purchased online at Amazon.

Bonnie

I have a tiny chihuahua mix who wasn't afraid of thunder or fireworks until the new neighbors next door set off a barrage of industrial -strength fireworks. This went on from 2 p.m. until midnight -- and they were loud. Was I in Afghanistan? It sure sounded like it. After a few hours, our little dog went mindlessly running through the house, panting -- and looking for any escape she could find. It was like a human nervous breakdown! She wouldn't be comforted, sleep, eat or drink. It was terrible. After that she became terrified of thunderstorms, although she had never been before. I bought her a Thundershirt, which helped somewhat, but without the miracle results some people have. Although thunderstorms aren't illegal in Florida, big-time fireworks are, but the police do nothing. I am dreading the weekend, even with a Thundershirt (do they make them in my size?) and white noise. July 4 and Dec. 31/Jan. 1 are the worst times of the year for a dog in Florida. Poor babies! (and vets with PTSD too).

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