NEW YORK -- More dogs run away on the Fourth of July than any other day of the year - and fireworks are largely to blame. The American Humane Association estimates more than 10 million dogs and cats are lost or stolen in the United States every year.
Some dogs are not just afraid of fireworks because they are loud. Fireworks are also accompanied with sudden flashes and burning smells, which can be overwhelming for your pet, according to dog expert Cesar Millan.
The noise is also likely to be unfamiliar, which can be very frightening for some dogs. Running away is a survival instinct for dogs, so make sure your dog is wearing its collar. If your dog is not microchipped, consider making an appointment with your vet as soon as possible. The American Animal Hospital Association says microchips can be the difference between lost and found for your dog.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals suggests not taking your dog with you to see a fireworks display. While you may be celebrating the holiday with family and friends, the noise of the fireworks, unfamiliar settings, and large crowds can all add to your dog's anxiety.
If your dog will be alone in your home during fireworks, make sure it has its favorite toy and a small, cozy area to take comfort in.
Some other helpful tips include drowning out the sound of fireworks going off with a white noise machine and exposing your dog to the sound of fireworks by playing video clips that gradually get louder and louder in the weeks leading up to the holiday so your dog gets used to the noise. Keep windows and curtains closed, if possible.
The Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind, Inc. also suggests taking your dog for a long walk shortly before the fireworks so it gets tired and uses up most of its energy.
If you will be home, make sure you remain calm and reassuring. Do not make a big fuss once the fireworks start. Your dog will look to you for cues on how he should be feeling.
Have a safe, happy Fourth of July!
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