It happens every year.  Dogs wiggle out of their collars and run off because the fireworks scared them.  Which cues panicked social media posts and fliers from owners hoping to find their lost pet.  If you have a dog that’s afraid of fireworks, here’s some tips on how to keep them safe.

My family owns a collie who can’t handle loud noises, like thunderstorms.  He gets seizures if he gets overstimulated.  Although he doesn’t run off, it’s still a delicate situation to deal with an epileptic attack.

So, from one dog owner to another, here’s how you can make sure your 4th of July doesn’t include a lost or hurt pet.

Believe me, the point of July 4th is to have fun.  And to be safe, which includes your dogs.

So, make sure that, if your dog takes medication for epilepsy, be sure to administer it to them in a timely manner.  If your neighborhood does host a huge fireworks spectacular, it might be a good idea to call your vet to go over other options just in case.  Sometimes, your little fur baby might need an additional prescription to manage their symptoms.

July 4th weekend is a unique situation, after all.  And your vet will want to make sure your dog is as safe as possible.

Veterinarians tend to dislike July 4th weekend because there’s always dogs showing up because their owners  made preventable mistakes.   So, talking to your vet beforehand might save you (and them) a little agony.  Or a lot.  Depends on the animal.

But, if your dog doesn’t have any known medical issues, yet still freaks out over loud noises and flashes – make sure you secure them in an area where they can’t escape.  Also, make sure you have some other noise-maker to distract your pet, like putting on the TV or radio.  And leaving out their favorite toys to play with.

If lights spook them, make sure to put them in an area where the fireworks and flashing won’t be visible.

The more powerful the dog, the more aware you have to be of alternative escape routes, too.  Some dogs, like the powerful German Shepherd, can break through a glass window.   If your dog becomes that scared, they might do something to hurt themselves to get away.

Heck, our old collie can maneuver his way out of a baby gate or a chair barricade.  So, make sure they can’t escape or injure themselves if they try to run away.

But, don’t think “oh, then I’ll just keep my dog with me and I’ll be able to watch him/her.”  That might not be a great idea, either.

Norwalk Police say stressed or nervous dogs can lash out and bite people if they become scared enough.  Even dogs with the sweetest personalities.

Besides, forcing your dog to directly deal with the stress factor outside is more cruel than responsible.  Even with a muzzle on.

So, if you’re unsure if your dog has a noise phobia, here’s some tell-tale signs.

“Signs of noise phobias in dogs are ears in a downward position, trembling, tail tucked between legs, heavy panting or heavy drooling”

If you catch your dog exhibiting one of these symptoms, it’s best to remove them from what’s causing them unnecessary stress.

And if your dog breaks free before you can safely relocate them, immediately give your local police department a call so they can be on the lookout.  Officers will be out in full force to patrol for unsafe drivers.  So, if you provide them a description of the animal to watch for and the area they were last seen, officers might be able to intercept your pet before they really get hurt.

Also, follow up with a call to animal control and nearby open veterinarian offices just in case a Good Samaritan finds them and brings them there.  Officials at those centers will also be able to provide you with ways to lure your pet back home if you’re unsuccessful in immediately retrieving them.

One last thing, which Norwalk PD brought up that got me scratching my head.  Don’t play fetch with fireworks.  I mean, really, that’s a recipe for animal cruelty.  Having your dog bite into an explosive is never a good idea.  Especially given the injuries they could potentially sustain.  Just… don’t do that.  Ever.

Oh, one more thing that isn’t dog- related but still important.  If you have a neighbor who served in combat and you plan on lighting off some fireworks, be sure to tell them in advance.  They may have PTSD and the loud banging and flashing could potentially trigger them.

They’ll definitely appreciate the heads up so they can make the proper preparations.

So, have a happy and safe 4th of July for all!

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