- According to a 2013 study, almost half of dog owners said their dog was afraid of loud noises.
- Fireworks can trigger your dog’s fight or flight response, which can cause him to run and hide.
- Your dog may be more fearful if he is older, female, neutered, or crossbred.
While many people enjoy fireworks during holidays like the 4th of July, the experience isn’t so pleasant for some dogs.
In fact, in a 2013 study, researchers found that almost half of dog owners they surveyed said their dog was afraid of loud noises. Fireworks were the most common culprit, followed by gunfire and thunder.
While you can’t necessarily protect them from fireworks, understanding why they’re scared can help you empathize with them better.
Why are dogs afraid of fireworks?
“Fireworks create loud, unfamiliar noises that the dog doesn’t understand, and they perceive them as signs of danger,” says Rover veterinarian Dr. Gary Richter.
These sounds can trigger a dog’s fight or flight response, especially the “flight” part. Richter says there is nothing to fight since there is no visible danger, so instead their response is to run or hide.
Unfortunately, that’s why July 5th tends to be one of the busiest days of the year for animal shelters, and there’s a 30% increase in lost pets each year in the days that follow. The 4th of July.
As humans, we can predict that during or around holidays like the 4th of July, we can expect to hear fireworks, but dogs don’t have the ability to keep that kind of mental calendar, says Dr. Ann Hohenhaus, senior veterinarian at Schwarzman. Animal Medical Center. This makes fireworks extremely unexpected and unpredictable for dogs, leading to even more fear.
Since fireworks can happen on the days before or after a holiday, Hohenhaus says if your dog is acting anxious on those days, you can probably assume fireworks are happening somewhere nearby. that your dog can hear, but you can’t.
Some telltale signs that your dog is anxious include:
- Loss of appetite
- have accidents in the house
- Attempt to flee or hide
- Inability to relax or settle down
“Most people know when their dog isn’t relaxed simply from what they know is normal behavior for the individual,” says Richter.
Why are some dogs more afraid of fireworks than others?
Just as some people have higher levels of anxiety, some dogs tend to be more anxious than others.
“It’s more of a personality trait. Some dogs are more easily spooked than others,” Richter says.
However, in addition to personality, research has found a few additional risk factors:
- They are crossed: A 2013 study found that if your dog is crossbred, he may be more likely to be afraid of fireworks than “hunting dog breeds” such as Labradors, Cockers and Springer Spaniels.
- they are older: The same 2013 study found that the risk of fear increases with age.
- They are women: A 2015 study found that female dogs were more likely to be sensitive to noises than male dogs.
- They are castrated: The same 2015 study found that neutered dogs were more fearful than unneutered dogs.
Do fireworks hurt dog ears?
It’s difficult to study how fireworks affect dogs’ long-term hearing, so veterinarians aren’t sure whether or not fireworks hurt dogs’ ears.
However, Hohenhaus says the sound level of fireworks is around 150 decibels (depending on how far away you are). If you are further away from the fireworks, they will be at a lower decibel level.
Hearing loss in humans can occur due to sounds quieter than this, depending on the length of exposure to them. But according to the CDC, it is possible to suffer immediate damage from sounds of 120 decibels.
Dogs’ ears are more sensitive than human ears, so it’s possible that these loud noises may affect dogs’ hearing.
The main reason dogs are afraid of fireworks is that they are loud and unpredictable, and they cannot identify the sound and know if it is a real danger or not.
If your dog is afraid of fireworks, prepare to be there for him. Hohenhaus insists on the importance of putting your dog in an identification collar and having his microchip up to date in case he runs away.
The key is to be ready to keep your dog safe when he needs you most.