Fireworks: Fun For You, But Not For Your Pets

shutterstock_406821796Those fireworks that help make the Fourth of July such a fun outdoor celebration can be a nightmare for pets—especially for dogs. The booms and pops of fireworks can trigger high levels of anxiety in dogs, and that fear can manifest in destructive behavior, excessive barking, cowering, hiding, and shaking.

There are, however, several ways to minimize anxiety for dogs when it comes to fireworks on the Fourth, according to

Provide a safe spot. Giving a dog access to a crate or closet can provide a feeling of security. Place a favorite blanket or unwashed clothes in the crate or space and add a chew toy or treat to contribute to a feeling of familiarity. Crates are likely to work best if the dog was raised in a crate or small kennel.

Counteract the noise. Dogs may experience less stress with the distraction of additional noise from a television or radio. Soothing music or other “white noise” can combat the jarring sounds from fireworks.

Exercise. It’s recommended to make sure a dog gets plenty of exercise earlier in the day, along with being fed, in an effort to reduce restlessness.

Administer medications. For dogs prone to severe anxiety, medications may be the best solution. Consult a veterinarian before using any medications. Whether it’s an over-the-counter medication such as Benadryl or a sedative specifically made for dogs, talking to a vet is critical for administering the proper dosage. Visit the California Veterinary Medical Board website ( to check the license status of a registered vet. Calming collars that emit soothing fragrances or snug storm jackets may be other options a veterinarian could recommend.

Avoid the outdoors. Keep dogs inside whenever possible and be sure all windows are shut to reduce the noise level. If you are going out to celebrate the Fourth, leaving a dog in the garage or bathroom is better than outside. If a dog must be left in the backyard, be sure it is secure—dogs that have extreme fear of fireworks will often find a way out of the yard to escape the noise.

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