Why Do Dogs Get Very Anxious When Hearing Fireworks?

Why Do Dogs Get Very Anxious When Hearing Fireworks?

We’re quickly approaching one of our favorite days of the year, which is the Fourth of July.  While many of us savor every moment of this holiday, us dog owners know that not everyone is so thrilled about the festivities.

Your Dog’s July 4th Nerves

On the Fourth of July, fireworks are the main tradition.  This includes town firework displays as well as individuals setting off fireworks for fun around town.  We all love the beautiful lights that brighten up the evening skies, but our pets aren’t exactly big fans.  Well, that’s an understatement, as any dog owner will tell you.  If there’s one way to upset a dog, it’s by lighting off fireworks.

So, what is it about fireworks in particular that makes dogs so incredibly stressed out?  Let’s look at the reasons why our four-legged friends cower away in fear every fourth of July.

Reason #1: Fear of the Unknown

If you had never seen a firework in your life, and no one told you what it was, how would you react to sudden, loud booms occurring around your home?  For a moment, think about fireworks from a dog’s perspective.  There’s no one who can explain to them what those noises are, let alone the fact that they are actually harmless to your pet.  This fear of the unknown can be extremely overwhelming to them, because for all they know, there is a serious threat taking place.

Reason #2: The Natural Fight or Flight Response

Like humans, dogs have a natural fight or flight response that’s hardwired into their brain chemistry.  Dogs in the wild can be exposed to constant threats in the form of predators, and so this fight or flight response is a crucial part of their survival.  It alerts them when danger is near, and unconsciously creates a series of physical and mental processes known as the “stress response.”  This involves the release of cortisol throughout the bloodstream which makes a dog’s heart beat faster, causes their thoughts to race and stimulates the production of adrenaline.

The sound of a firework will signal this biological process to occur in an involuntary way.  It’s the same as when we have a close call with another car while on the road.  Even though real danger was avoided, and we were left unharmed, our bodies react in a way that can make it difficult for us to calm down.

Reason #3: Unpredictability

Dogs don’t like unpredictability.  Unpredictability in the wild can be dangerous, which is why canines naturally stick to a routine that leaves little room for potentially harmful surprises, like coming across predators.  The sound of fireworks is unpredictable.  There’s no warning, and the booms occur randomly rather than at regular intervals.  The unpredictable nature of fireworks can leave dogs feeling frazzled as they prefer to know what’s about to occur at all times.

Reason #4: Pre-Existing Anxiety

If your pup already has an anxiety condition, fireworks can stimulate a very powerful stress response that can leave them in quite a state long after the firework show is over.  Your dog may shake, whimper, hide or behave strangely for the remainder of the evening.

Reason #5: Sensitivity to Loud Noises

In general, dogs are just sensitive to loud noises.  Remember that a dog’s hearing is far stronger than that of a human.  In fact, dogs can hear noises four times farther away than we can.  Their ears are incredibly sensitive, as they rely on their sense of sound for survival more than we do.  Therefore, you can bet that if you think fireworks are loud, to them, the volume is nothing short of unbearable.

Do Dogs Every Get Used to Fireworks?

One reason why fireworks are so fear-inducing among dogs is because they only occur a few times a year, on average.  Therefore, the dog has not gotten used to the sound, and made the association that fireworks do not lead to some type of harm.  If fireworks occurred every day, at the same time, there’s a chance that a dog would get used to them. 

Dogs are very smart, and their memories inform them of danger.  For instance, maybe you noticed that the first time you brought your dog home, the sound of loud trucks passing by caused them to exhibit signs of stress.  But, after they got used to living on your street, they stopped responding to the sound, because they eventually recognized through their memory and through repeated exposure that trucks passing by pose no actual threat of harm. 

Because fireworks are sporadic, dogs aren’t used to them.  But, if you do live in an area where fireworks are set off almost nightly throughout the summer, such as a state in which fireworks are legal, or perhaps you live in a noisy area, then your dog may eventually make peace with the sound, because they will learn to anticipate it, while also knowing that they won’t actually harm them.

Could CBD Help?

Just because it’s normal for a dog to react so strongly to fireworks doesn’t mean that we as dog owners don’t want to do everything that we can to keep them calm.  In fact, the Fourth of July can be a nightmare for dog owners who would have otherwise thoroughly enjoyed a fireworks show, because the pain of setting their pup in distress is just too much to bear.

If you want to try a natural method of calming your dog down, you might want to look into giving them CBD oil.  CBD is a holistic, plant-based cannabinoid that your dog’s body will utilize to regulate all kinds of bodily processes, including stress levels.  Giving them CBD throughout the summer can help them maintain a sense of ease regardless of when those fireworks go off around your town.

Final Thoughts

As dog owners ourselves, few things break our heart like seeing our beloved canines in a state of distress.  And few things distress a pup quite like fireworks that create loud, sudden, and unpredictable noises.  If you wanna help your companion calm down this Fourth of July, you might want to start giving them CBD oil. 

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