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Fourth Of July Fireworks: Not A Blast For Dogs

Rachel Gobep
90.5 WESA
Animal experts advise pet owners to keep cats and dogs inside during Fourth of July celebrations and to make sure that pets have proper ID, just in case they escape. Luke the dog watches his owner in anticipation of the annual fireworks on July 3, 2019.

Red, white and blue fireworks will burst across the sky in Pittsburgh Thursday night, but the celebration can be terrifying for the family dog.

Eighty-seven strays entered the doors of the Humane Animal Rescue in Pittsburgh during the Fourth of July holiday week last year, according to CEO Dan Rossi.

He said 677 strays came into the shelter in 2018, about 13 per week.

Rossi said typically, a dog gets frightened and jumps a fence. Other times, dogs have gotten loose at picnics or parties.

“If your animal has stress or is spooked by fireworks, leave them at home. That’s the best, most secure place for them,” he said.

Dr. Ariella Samson, Chief Veterinary Officer at organization, said dogs are not necessarily impacted by the fireworks themselves, but rather the noise they create.

“A lot of dogs that are afraid of fireworks are also afraid of thunderstorms and have generalized noise phobias, as well,” she said.

Samson said because fireworks usually go on for a prolonged period of time, the terror increases. She said never take a dog or cat to view fireworks because it increases the risk of them running away.

“I don’t care how much you think that they enjoy it. They do not,” she said. “It is overwhelming, crowded, loud and bright. Everything that we hear is magnified more than 10-fold for our dogs and cats. They do not want to be there with you.”

Samson recommends that if an owner knows he or she has a noise-phobic animal to stay home and be inside with the pet.

To provide a calming atmosphere Samson said to close the blinds and play ambient noise or soft music.

She said signs of noise-induced anxiety include panting, pacing, drooling, neediness, shaking and hiding in bathrooms or under the bed.

Samson said to not pull a dog or cat out of the area it is hiding because it is their safe space.

She also said a consultation with a veterinarian can help to provide an FDA- approved medication, SILEO, for dogs with noise aversion. There are other anti-anxiety drugs that can be prescribed.

“If this is something you know your dog struggles with, don’t wait … and just let them cope with it. That’s not really ideal,” Samson said.

Rossi said owners should be proactive by having dogs wear ID tags with a phone number as well as microchipped.