Fido and fireworks: Keeping your dog safe on the 4th

Golden retriever puppies Ellie and Lizzy are the newest edition to WTOP\'s Mike Moss\' family. They passed their fireworks test with flying colors. (WTOP/Mike Moss)

Paula Wolfson, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – The Fourth of July can be a traumatic holiday for dogs.

As a rule, they are extremely frightened of fireworks. Some shelters say they see a big increase in runaway dogs this time of year.

Veterinarian Katy Nelson isn’t surprised. She says it’s well known that many dogs get nervous during a thunderstorm, and the constant loud boom of fireworks can drive them crazy.

“They don’t know that this is a celebration and we should be happy seeing these things falling from the sky and these loud booms,” Nelson says.

Dogs don’t belong at public fireworks displays she says, adding “there are a lot of people around, there are lots of noises that are going to make them very unsure of themselves.”

Her advice is simple. Leave the dogs at home.

“Try to help protect them from this stress rather than trying to mix them up right in the middle of it,” she says.

And in homes where fireworks can be heard from the deck or lawn, Nelson suggests putting the dogs inside, ideally in a room with a fan that can create some white noise.

That “is going to be a lot safer for our pets than putting them out on the back porch and letting them get absolutely freaked,” she says.

High-strung dogs may benefit from anti-anxiety medication, but Nelson cautions that all the noise and stress could have an impact on a pet’s health days after the holiday. Stress is the number one cause of gastro-intestinal problems in dogs.

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