Health

How To Help Anxious Pets on the Fourth of July

It turns out that not everyone finds loud successions of explosives detonating in midair enjoyable. Noise from fireworks on Independence Day can be a source of crippling anxiety for pets—which can be especially dangerous for dogs.

"Every year near the Fourth of July, we see a significant increase in the number of traumatic injuries to dogs, specifically related to the fear response associated with fireworks," veterinarian Mark Freeman said in a press release. "Dogs have jumped through glass windows and off decks and balconies, chewed through doors and walls, and many get hit by cars when they panic and run away from the noise."

These memes about sum it up.

dog

dog

dog

Data on the prevalence of noise anxiety in pets is limited, but a 2015 study published in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science found that 23 percent of dog owners reported that their pets suffered from the disorder. Symptoms of noise anxiety in pets can include trembling, panting, hiding, urinating, vomiting, and even self-mutilation.

Fireworks are common triggers for pets with noise anxiety, but other loud noises such as thunder and traffic are also known to provoke anxiety. The study sought to identify what caused noise anxiety in the first place.

Like anxiety in humans, there doesn't seem to be a single factor at the root of the disorder. The researchers determined that some dogs have a genetic predisposition to noise anxiety, others experienced traumatic experiences they later associated with noise, and some developed noise anxiety by observing other dogs respond anxiously to noise and adopted that behavior.

If you have a pet with noise anxiety, there are things you can do to alleviate their anxiety this Fourth of July holiday.

The most important thing you can do to help your anxious pet is keep them company while the fireworks are going off, Tracy Jones, an adoption coordinator at The Amanda Foundation, told ATTN:. Pets tends to seek out their owners when they become anxious.

"Keep them in a cozy room with some music or NPR or the TV going to help with the noise," Jones said. "And make sure dogs and cats have collars, tags, and updated microchips just in case they do get out. The owners will have a better chance of being reunited with their pets."

One widely shared, DIY infographic shows owners how to turn a scarf into an anti-anxiety vest, similar to ones you'd find at pet stores.

dog

There might be another option, too. As ATTN: previously reported, some companies have produced veterinarian-formulated cannabis products for pets that contain CBD, a non-psychoactive ingredient in cannabis that's used to treat a range of symptoms, including anxiety. Anecdotal accounts suggest that CBD reduces anxiety in pets much as it does for humans. In any case, there's no reason you can't enjoy the holiday while helping your furry friend overcome their anxiety. It's a common problem among pets, but there are plenty of ways to minimize their discomfort this Independence Day.