Why fireworks cause stress for pets and what you can do to help them cope

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ELYRIA, Ohio (WJW) — Fireworks around the 4th of July holiday can create real stress for pets and their owners.

Executive Director Greg Willey at Friendship Animal Protective League in Elyria says it’s not uncommon for dogs to be anxious this time of year.

“Most dogs actually express themselves from the fireworks, the fear and the terror. They can hear, often times three to five times the average human hearing, so they can hear these fireworks very far away and they can sound close up,” said Willey.

While the sound of fireworks causes some dogs to hide, the APL says other pets cope with the fear by being destructive.

“They will find something to chew on or worry on, it’s the same thing that we do, but then unfortunately, they’re going to do it with our shoes or they’re going to do it with the couch or cushion or pillow, you know those are the types of things that dog will find that they will chew on and worry on,” said Willey.

The period around the holiday is the worst time of year for runaway dogs, according to APL volunteer and retired animal control officer Rick Broz.

“I found dogs with broken chains where they panicked so badly that they actually broke their chains, some dogs I took home, the owners have said they’ve broken through the fence,” said Broz.

The APL says among the solutions to the fireworks anxiety problem is to create a safe space within your home for your pet, whether that be their crate or a quiet room.

Willey says you can also comfort your dog by drowning out the sound of fireworks with low background music or even books on audio. Another solution is a ThunderShirt.

“A ThunderShirt, if used appropriately, will press and compress on the dog’s chest, giving it that comforting feeling of being wrapped tightly or held,” he said.

In some cases, veterinarians recommend that dogs with high anxiety be treated with medication, but for others, the most effective cure for fear and stress is good old fashioned “TLC”.

“If you can, try to be near your dog, there’s nothing more comforting than the presence of you holding your dog, comforting your dog,” said Willey.

While some pet owners have tried to get their dog accustomed to the sound of fireworks, Willey says that’s a bad idea and will make the dog even more anxious and frightened.

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