Summer Celebrations

Summertime. Cookouts, the beach, time spent relaxing with family and friends, and sharing all the joys of everything from a bonfire to fireworks. While we may find fireworks displays beautiful and exciting, our pets can experience them very differently. For many pets, fireworks are a source of intense anxiety and fear. Understanding why pets react this way and how to help them cope is essential for all pet parents.

Why Fireworks Scare Pets

The primary reason pets are scared of fireworks is their acute sense of hearing. Dogs can hear frequencies between 47,000 Hz and 65,000 Hz, whereas humans hear at about 20,000 Hz. The loud, unexpected sounds of fireworks can be overwhelming for pets. In addition to the unexpected and extreme noise, the sudden flashes of light and smell of gunpowder add to your pet’s sensory overload.

For animals, these loud noises can trigger a fight-or-flight response. In nature, loud noises often signal danger, such as thunderstorms or predators. The unpredictability of fireworks, combined with their loudness, makes it hard for pets to understand that they are safe.

Signs That Your Pet Is Experiencing Anxiety About Fireworks

Pets display a spectrum of behaviors when they’re anxious about something, especially something unfamiliar to them like a fireworks display. Common signs of anxiety about fireworks include:

  • Excessive Barking or Meowing: Vocalizing more than usual can indicate stress.
  • Pacing or Restlessness: Unable to stay still, pets may walk around nervously.
  • Hiding: Seeking out unusual enclosed, quiet places to feel secure.
  • Destructive Behavior: Chewing, scratching, or other destructive acts can be a result of anxiety.
  • Trembling or Shaking: Visible signs of fear can include shaking or shivering.
  • Accidents in the House: Anxiety can lead to a loss of control over bodily functions.
  • Drooling: Can be an innate panic response.
  • Excessive attention seeking: Your pet may try to jump in your lap or exhibit other unusual attention seeking behaviors.

How To Help Your Pet

There are ways to help manage your pet’s anxiety about fireworks before we get fully into the season. In preparation for those loud summer celebrations, you should:

  • Make sure all identification tags and licenses are current
  • Get your pet microchipped if possible
  • Make sure you have a current photo of your pet
  • Under veterinary supervision, consider desensitization therapy for your pet
  • Talk to your veterinarian about anti-anxiety medication
  • Consider purchasing an anxiety vest

Should your veterinarian recommend medication to help manage your pet’s anxiety, it’s best to try it before any event where you know there will be fireworks so you can make sure the dosage is right for your pet.

If you and your pet encounter unexpected fireworks at an event, you should:

  • Make sure your pet stays on their leash
  • Stay calm because your pet is attuned to your emotions
  • Try to calm your pet
  • Leave the event if you need to

Minnesota Veterinary Hospital

Minnesota Veterinary Hospital in Shoreview, MN, is as eager as you are to make sure your pet stays well, safe, and with you during upcoming noisy celebrations. We’re available to help you make this summer season safe and fun for all your favorite family members.

Image credit: ermaltahiri / Pixabay