Frightened pets not celebrating loud popping sounds on Fourth

Turning the calendar over to July brought the notion of midsummer realization to mind. Early July seems to mark the turning point of hot summer days, because we know that this unrelenting heat will soon surely subside. The month also begins with one of the grandest celebrations in recognition of our country’s independence.

Happy 4th of July! The nation celebrates with picnics and parades, family gatherings and barbecues — and, of course, the magnificent firework displays.

Actually, depending on your neighborhood, you have probably already experienced the popping noises of fireworks careening into the night skies. While many folks naturally enjoy the ambiance of summertime fireworks, most animals detest the loud noises often associated with the light show.

The look in a fearful dog’s eye when a loud explosion occurs nearby, such as a thunderstorm bolt or the shrill shriek of a firework being launched, is one of pure terror.

Unable to rationalize the horrific sound, the dog will usually take flight and run to put as much distance between itself and the threatening noise. Others will try and hide under beds or in closets to escape the frightening commotion. Still others will inflict bodily harm to themselves trying to scratch or claw their way out of an enclosure.

The animal’s fear is genuine, their ability to comprehend the noise impossible. Petmeds.org gives a plausible explanation for why an animal often reacts negatively to loud noises. The average human ear can hear sounds between 20 and 20,000 hertz (Hz), whereas a dog’s hearing frequency range is between 40 and 60,000 Hz. Imagine the sound of an exploding firework being amplified two to three times greater than the normal sound humans hear. No wonder they run.

The American Humane Association reports that July 5 is the busiest day of the year for animal shelters. Oftentimes, panicked pets fleeing into the night end up lost, injured and even killed as they try to escape the incessant noises surrounding them. The best way to keep your pets safe is to confine them inside.

But even that may not be enough for pets that are truly terrified of loud noises. Sudden bursts of bright lights through windows followed by loud booms associated with fireworks can still agitate some creatures. Ideally, closing the curtains and turning on the television or a radio will help drown out the outside hoopla. Confining a frightened animal to an isolated room such as a bathroom or laundry room may be sufficient for some pets, but others may feel trapped and will try to claw or chew their way out of their captivity.

Animal behaviorists have aptly named the disorder canine noise aversion. While they agree on the name, they often disagree on how to best handle a manic dog. Some suggest providing safe haven but not to coddle the animal because that action reinforces its fear.

Others empathetically understand that you cannot heighten anxiety by comforting a frightened dog.

For many years, veterinarians have prescribed sedatives to help keep an animal calm during stressful situations. However, some animal behaviorists claim that the effects of the drug sedate the animal but do not help to reduce anxiety. In May 2016, the Food and Drug Administration approved a medication called SILEO for the treatment of canine noise aversion. The drug calms without sedation, allowing the animal to interact normally. For more information on this drug, visit zoetisus.com/products/ dogs/sileo/ or talk with your veterinarian.

Additionally, there is a product called the ThunderShirt that touts beneficial anxiety reducing properties. The lightweight material applies gentle, constant pressure to help the animal feel secure. A video on their website at thundershirt. com boasts an 80 percent success rate with dogs experiencing many types of anxietyrelated issues. The constant pressure is believed to reduce the animal’s heart rate while releasing pleasing hormones.

No matter how you handle your pet’s anxiety, its safety is paramount. Always keep identification tags on a pet’s collar with your name, phone number and address. Consider microchipping your pet to help ensure a speedy retrieval in case your pet becomes lost. Recent photographs of your pet come in handy if you need to post flyers in your neighborhood on the chance your best friend runs off.

Essentially though, if you understand your pet’s phobias, you can learn to help it overcome them.

Have a fun and safe Fourth of July, and please keep your pets inside during firework celebrations.

Charlé Thibodeau has been a passionate pet caregiver for more than 30 years. If you have a pets question you would like Thibodeau to answer in her column, email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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