Here’s The Science Behind Why Your Pet Is Afraid Of FireworksMatthew Russell
It’s common knowledge by now that fireworks and dogs don’t mix.
But do you know why?
Dog owners in the U.K. were surveyed in 2005. At least half of them reported their pets were scared of loud noises, and 83 percent were frightened specifically by fireworks. According to Business Insider, this survey was validated 5 years later when pet owners in New Zealand were asked the same question.
The month of July in the United States is accompanied by fireworks in nearly every community in the country. Dogs have little choice in the matter, though they have a valid complaint.
According to Dr. Marty Becker of Vetstreet.com, “Fireworks are bombs, for Pete’s sake. It makes sense to be scared!”
And here’s why:
Fireworks are seemingly unpredictable to animals who don’t understand the concept of national holidays. A dog or cat may be able to tell when a storm is rolling and remain calm when thunder booms, but there are no telltale signs to prepare animals before fireworks go off.
“Unlike a thunderstorm where there are subtle precursors — barometric pressure changes, amount of light in the sky, humidity etc. — there is no ‘warning’ so to speak with fireworks,” says Marc Elias, principal officer of Pooch Pals LLC. “Without a warning, psychologically most pets get excited very quickly and have to cope with that excitement, fear and anxiety.”
5. Metal anguish
Unlike humans, who grow to appreciate fireworks as they grow older, animals don’t possess the same affinity for such celebration.
“I think our intellect allows us to learn to like these, based on peer input,” Dr. Becker said. “I remember taking my niece to a baseball game with fireworks after[ward] when she was a toddler. We had to leave because she was terrified. That is not abnormal. She likes fireworks now…a cultural adaptation?”
To a pet, fireworks may be as offensive as a volley of gunshots or cannon fire outside your bedroom window.
4. INSTINCTUAL RESPONSE
Fireworks elicit the fight or flight response in many dogs. When the first bang goes off, it’s not uncommon to see them skitter and hide under furniture, or hunker down and growl.
“It’s especially important during this time that dogs are prevented from getting out of the house or yard, because dogs that are afraid are more likely to dash out and keep running, often getting right into danger of traffic or getting lost,” says pet-training expert Mikkel Bekker.