Independence Day Can Be Terrifying For Pets

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Holidays are often tough on pets, but the Fourth of July, with the loud crack of firecrackers and harsh odor of gunpowder, is the least favorite national holiday for many dogs and cats.

Dr. Gregory S. Hammer, American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) president, advises that if your pet has problems on Independence Day, meet with your veterinarian as early as possible. There are a number of ways to approach this problem, including medications, but many require time and preparation. For example, desensitization programs can reduce a dog's response to fireworks, but that can take weeks or months.

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"There are many dogs that experience a great deal of fear and anxiety on this holiday and that can be a serious problem," explains Dr. Hammer. "Nobody really knows why some animals find it so unnerving. Is it the noise? Is it fireworks and flashes of light? I'm not sure if anybody knows what really frightens dogs."

Dr. Hammer says in his practice, he has seen that it's really most often a problem with dogs. "Cats will just hide when fireworks start," said Dr. Hammer. "But dogs can do a lot of damage."

"I've had dogs chew through doors, through screens, and that can certainly cause a lot of damage not just to the home but to the animal. What we think they are trying to do is get away from that noise -- to just run away. So you should make sure that your pets are in a part of the house where they won't hurt themselves or something else."

"Anti-anxiety drugs can help with some dogs and cats, but you should consult with your veterinarians long before the holiday occurs. Don't wait until the morning of the Fourth of July and then realize, I'm going to have a problem tonight," Dr. Hammer says.

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