Dogs Fear Fireworks which Also Carry Risks

Dogs do not appreciate the beauty and noise of fireworks

Dogs do not appreciate the beauty and noise of fireworks

Fireworks are a beautiful and festive display in celebration of a holiday or special event. Humans can love and appreciate what they represent, the lights and colors, but to dogs the noise is more than they can bear. If your pet is unbearably fearful of fireworks or becomes in contact with them, it could be a real concern requiring medical attention.

As the fireworks fill the skies with brilliance, it is easy to forget about your dog as it trembles and looks for a safe hiding place. Such loud noises and brightness can easily frighten the most calm and reserved pet. If the pet is near where the fireworks are lit, he/she can get hurt with burns and other injury from the remnants of hot ash. The dog’s feet and nose can be hurt as a result. The pets become curious about the ash and sometimes used fireworks, not only getting burned but ingesting them, especially when it comes to sparklers.

Fireworks can be lethal for your animal because they contain such agents as potassium nitrate and metals like mercury, antimony, copper, barium, strontium and phosphorus. Ingestion of these components can result in severe illness. In addition to ingestion of dangerous toxins in the fireworks, sometimes the object can fly to inappropriate areas, subjecting the dog to being hit, causing burns and trauma.

If your pet is exposed to fireworks physically or through ingestion, get immediate medical attention. Your vet will have to perform a physical exam along with a medical history to determine what may have occurred. In the event of possible ingestion, a blood work up would be performed to know for sure what organs may be affected and how to treat. Symptoms of illness from fireworks may be vomiting, difficulty breathing, burns in the mouth or on the skin, abdominal pain and any soft tissue injury.

Burns are treated by cleaning the area and use of antibiotics. Ingestion is more aggressive in treatment, sometimes requiring IV fluids and hospitalization. Medications such as sucralfate, famotidine orcimetidine are administered to protect the gastrointestinal tract. Sometimes an anti-vomiting treatment is necessary. Prognosis is usually good unless your pet ate a huge amount of fireworks.

When going to a fireworks display, have your pet securely leashed; or better yet, leave your pet at home away from the festivities. If you must bring him/her, provide a quiet safe haven away from the immediate display area. Dogs that are fearful of fireworks should not be subjected to them if at all possible.

When at home, you can protect your pet the best by keeping it indoors, turning on other noises such as radio, TV, air conditioner or fan and always give access to a comfortable hiding place. In severe cases of anxiety, you may need vet assistance for anti-anxiety medications and a behaviorist to learn some counter-conditioning exercises or forms of desensitization.

If your dog is a little freaked out by the noise, don’t try to reassure it by petting and soothing words and attention. This only reinforces the fearful behavior. Try to ignore the circumstances and show no reaction to the noise. Dogs feed off the moods and emotions of their humans; you respond to the fear, the dog is scared; you act calm, your dog will eventually respond accordingly. You can help a little by talking to your pet in a light, happy tone of voice that sends a message that the fireworks are no big deal.

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