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Firework Safety and Loud Noise Phobias

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Elsa cowering because of the fireworks - credit: Ken Mayer on Flickr

Elsa cowering because of the fireworks

Credit: Ken Mayer on Flickr
As many pet lovers know, fireworks and thunder storms can cause a great deal of stress for some animals. Fear of loud sounds - fireworks, thunder, gunshot - are called noise phobias. For a pet affected by loud noises, this is a terrifying and uncomfortable time; both for the pet and the people. Your pet cannot control their reaction to loud noises. Many therapies exist to help with this condition.

Learn to recognize the signs of noise phobias and some tips to reduce fears. As always, talk to your vet if this is a problem for your pet. Behavior modification alone works well for some pets, others may need medications in addition to behavior modification to be safe and not injure themselves trying to "escape" the noise.

Commonly seen signs of noise phobias include:

  • Shaking, trembling
  • Excessive drooling
  • Barking, howling
  • Trying to hide or get into / out of the house, fence, or other enclosure
  • Refusing to eat food
  • Some animals may loose bladder or bowel control or experience temporary diarrhea from prolonged stress

Please note: The signs mentioned above are general signs, and could be indicative of many different diseases or conditions. Please consult with your veterinarian if these signs persist after fireworks or thunder has subsided, or if you suspect that your pet may have been poisoned or is otherwise ill.

Trying to escape from the loud noises can mean broken windows, torn fences, chewed doors or dog crates, and result in lacerations, foot pad injuries, teeth and mouth injuries or worse as they try to run from the disturbingly loud noises.

It doesn't matter if the fears are "rational" or not. It should be noted that scolding a frightened animal is not effective will only intensify the fears.

Practice Safety

  • Keep pets home It may be tempting to bring along your dog(s) so everyone can enjoy the fun, but the loud noises aren't usually fun for pets. Plus, there are many other hazards - fire, food (dietary indiscretion), getting lost in the confusion, etc. that make staying home in a comfortable safe environment a good choice.
  • Keep pets indoors if possible It is advisable to close the curtains and turn on the TV or radio to provide some distraction. Calming or classical music are better than some TV or radio noise choices. Therapeutic music such as Through A Dog's Ear often work better at keeping your dog calm and providing an audio distraction.
  • Provide a safe "escape" place Many times pets will seek out a small den-like place (such as a crate), if they are fearful or stressed. If you do not already have a crate, bed or similar place that your pet can call his "own," it is recommended to create that safe place and familiarize your pet with it before needed, as a means of reducing stress during fireworks and thunderstorms.
  • Use a leash or carrier If you must be outside with your pet, keep the pet on a leash or in carrier at all times.
  • Practice fire safety Keep pet away from matches, lighter fuel, open fires, and fireworks - especially ones that are lighted on the ground. Pets may try to sniff (or eat) fireworks, and pet hair can easily catch fire if too close to the fireworks.
  • Take pet for a walk first If possible, make sure that you pet has time to "use the restroom" before the fireworks start. Some pets are too frightened to void once the fireworks begin, and this may lead to an "accident" later on.
  • Make sure pet ID is current Make sure that your pet has proper identification tags, with current information, in case s/he gets away. This will help the local authorities (who are quite busy this time of year handling frightened runaways).

Related Reading: Additional 4th of July safety tips from the ASPCA.

Please see next page to learn how to Tips to help ease loud noise phobias and the need for medication --->

Photo 1: Elsa cowering because of the fireworks - credit: Ken Mayer on Flickr
Photo 2: 4th of July Fireworks - credit: HAM guy on Flickr
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