Fourth of July season can be stressful for dogs

The Fourth of July holiday can bring a lot of noise anxieties for your pets. (WSYX/WTTE)

The Fourth of July holiday can bring a lot of noise anxieties for your pets. The big booms from fireworks and firecrackers can cause pets to panic and run away.

About 40 percent of dogs experience noise anxiety. In the summer months, thunderstorms and lightning can also terrify dogs.

Experts say it can create a vicious cycle where the dogs get nervous, uncomfortable, then fearful, and severe anxiety may develop as a consequence.

Some people use "Thundershirts" as a helpful tool for anxious dogs. It works something like swaddling for babies, and fastens around the dog's core with Velcro. It will calm their heart rate naturally, and is safe for all ages, sizes, and breeds. The disadvantage —you have to put it on before the thunderstorm or fireworks happen to help prevent the “wind up” and the worsening of fear and anxiety.

Meghan Herron, Veterinary Behaviorist at The Ohio State University, said the Fourth of July is one of the busiest times at shelters because dogs are panicking and they don’t feel safe.

“Thundershirts can be helpful for any stressful event, and fireworks are a big stressor for a lot of our noise sensitive patients,” said Herron.

Herron said it is a good idea to make dogs who have noise anxiety a “bunker” inside you home. A little soothing classical music may be helpful as well.

“Most dogs are going to seek a place that is dark, they’re going to seek a place that feels secure from the sights and sounds so a place that is smaller and confined, a place that doesn’t have windows,” said Herron.

Herron suggests people avoid walks with pets when fireworks are likely to be set off.

“They don’t understand where it’s coming from. They can’t predict it. They don’t know when it is going to end or when it is going to come again. It can be hard on them,” she said.

Herron said training, especially at an early age, can lessen the fear. But owners should take the anxiety seriously.

“I really encourage people whose dogs are hurting themselves, who are trying to escape and panicking to get medical help from their veterinarian because it can be a dangerous issue,” Herron said.

The experts said similar to people who have a panic disorder, they can treat dogs with new medications to help them. The shelter in Franklin County said they saw about 100 dogs get lost last year. The shelter is offering their adoption special through the weekend and adoption fees on all dogs will be waived.

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