The Fourth of July is an "explosive" celebration of
independence that we all love. Fun fairs, parades, shows, food,
parties, music, noise and fireworks everywhere... what can be more
Some of our dogs are not so good at American history and
all that party activity is a surprise to them. Weather it is in the
middle of dinner, relaxation time on the couch or a nice doggy
midnight dream, the rattling booms come as a shock and can scare the
living daylights out of a dog. Fireworks are a rude awakening that
sends our canine friends from a calm downtime up into the air with a
racing heart beat and cold sweat.
The poor dog is terrorized. With a natural instinct of
fight or flight reaction, he/she tries to run for his/her life. To
him/her the world is coming to an end. The intense explosions are
amplified by a dog's acute hearing sense, tearing his brains apart.
He tries to escape with erratic pacing or trotting in different
directions, digging or chewing his way out, panting, crying and
loosing his mind.
Some dogs undergoing this traumatic experience become
injured or cause damage in the house. They need help. If possible,
dogs that are known to have this "4th of July syndrome" should be
placed in a quiet environment, away from the commotion. If not, they
at least can be brought to a "safe hiding place": A place that
mimics a cave or a small dark space, like the one under the bed or
the bedroom closet.
Owners should consult their veterinarian about ways to help
their dog in these or similar cases. Many affected dog will also
react similarly to thunderstorms or gunshots. There are ways of
behavioral therapy that can help the dog, such as conditioning or
desensitization. Tranquilizers and other sedatives are sometimes
used for a short-term treatment. Some medications may be harmful to
dogs with kidney or liver problems. A physical exam as well as a
blood test should be done prior to the medical treatment.
In addition, owners should prevent disasters related to
escaped dogs by keeping them indoors or on a leash and verify that
an ID tag is on the dog (a well-secured ID tag or an embedded
Some dogs are the complete opposite. They are fearless and
are not affected by noises. These brave dogs should be confined as
well, especially if they are a good retriever. There have been
several tragic incidents where dogs ran and fetched firecrackers.