In a few days, the City of Joplin will celebrate our nation’s independence with a day of parades, music, and the symbol of the holiday: Fireworks. Each year the city puts together an amazing display of fireworks that light up the evening the sky over the city and sends tremors through our bodies with the loud booms. For some firework fanatics it is the highlight of Summer.
But, for many house pets, especially our dogs, the Fourth of July is a time of anxiety and stress. They don’t understand the significance of the booms and light displays. Just like anxieties in people, dogs have varying degrees of demonstrating their emotional stress. Some will hide and cower while others will scratch or bite themselves raw.
Following is a short guide to ways you can help your dog cope with the sound and lightshows of the Fourth of July.
1. Lock your dog in a room or environment where the sound and light from the fireworks is muffled, such as a basement. If your dog is crated, move the crate to the temporary location. For best results, provide your dog with a special chew treat, such as a Kong® stuffed with treats or a new Nylabone®. Play a TV or radio at normal listening volume.
2. If a quiet environment is not available or feasible, try placing a cotton ball in your dog’s ears. The cotton ball will dampen the sound of the whistles, pops, and booms. Be sure to not insert the cotton too far in the ear canal. Do not leave the cotton ball in the ear overnight or for an extended period of time. Close your home’s window coverings and turn on a few lamps to minimize the amount of flashing light.
3. Do not pamper or cuddle your dog if he begins to demonstrate stress. Dogs do not understand nurturing and comfort the same way humans do. Nurturing and comfort to a dog affirms the behavior they are displaying. For example, if a dog is whimpering in fear and you coddle it, it will believe that you praising him, and therefore, repeat the behavior. For best results, ignore any behaviors of fear and act normal. Speak to the dog in a normal, nothing-is-wrong, tone of voice.
4. For severe cases of stress and anxiety, consider spending the holiday with your dog at a campground or hotel where fireworks are banned. The KOA in Joplin does not permit fireworks.
5. Another option is to sedate the dog or use holistic and natural calming products. These options should only be used for extreme cases, such as a dog that develops diarrhea or remains stressed for days following the fireworks event. Only your veterinarian can prescribe and administer sedation-level drugs. Holistic calming products can be purchased in many pet stores and online. Holistic over-the-counter products may not work on a dog with severe anxiety. Always follow the recommended dosage for your dog’s weight.
This year, the city’s celebration will be held on July 3rd at Landreth Park. The fireworks display will begin at 9:45pm. For more information on the events planned for the day, please visit the City of Joplin’s website.
Click Subscribe to receive an e-mail notification when new articles are published.
Become a fan of Joplin Dog Examiner on Facebook.