London

Keep dogs at home for Canada Day fireworks, Humane Society says

The London Humane Society is advising dog owners to keep their animals at home during Canada Day fireworks. Executive Director Judy Foster says most dogs are not accustomed to the loud bangs and bright lights.

Dogs tremble with fear from booming bright displays, advocates say

The London Humane Society is advising dog owners to keep their pets at home during Canada Day fireworks. The loud, bright displays only happen once or twice a year and dogs don't get used to to them, according to the agency.

"This infrequent exposure doesn't allow canines to ever become accustomed to these explosive booms." said Humane Society executive director Judy Foster.  "It's no wonder that fireworks send many dogs into trembling and fearful states." 

The Humane Society makes several recommendations to help your dog cope with fireworks:

  • Speak calmly and cheerfully to your dog without coddling him. Dogs are more likely to be anxious if their owners are acting as though something is wrong.
  • Keep your dog inside during fireworks. It's never a good idea to bring dogs to a firework display; they may pull out of their collars to escape.
  • Close blinds or curtains, or place a blanket over your dog's crate to block out flashes of light from fireworks.
  • Keep windows and doors closed to prevent a panicked escape.
  • Offer your dog a fun distraction, such as a Kong toy filled with peanut butter (freeze in advance for a cool and extra challenging treat).
  • Take your dog for a walk before dusk rolls in. Your dog is more likely to relax after his energy has been expelled.
  • Some dogs feel less anxious while wearing a Thundershirt—a pressure wrap believed to have a calming effect on the nervous system.
  • Consult a veterinarian if you think your dog would benefit from anxiety medication.
  • Make sure your dog's identification is updated in case he does get out.

But, the strongest recommendation is to keep dogs at home during fireworks.

"We know dogs have acute hearing. They hear frequencies that are much higher and lower than humans do," said Foster. "Even dogs that are safe at home will still hear fireworks from across town." 

Dogs are more likely than cats to fear fireworks, making canines more vulnerable to developing a noise phobia - a persistent, excessive and irrational fear response to noise.  

"In some cases owners may just want to stay home with their dog so the dog can be comforted and not left alone," said Foster.