Calming jittery pets while fireworks explode

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By Rachael Bale, ANIMALS Executive Editor

We just adopted a dog. His name is Sherman, he’s a three-year-old corgi, and he has an adorable butt wiggle when he’s excited. Sherman had been left in the overnight drop of an animal shelter, with a bad skin infection and a note from his anonymous former owners that said, “Very sweet and loving dog. Please find him a good, loving home. He deserves the best.”

The rescue organization that my mom works with, New Beginnings for Animals, pulled him from the shelter, got him veterinary care, and then found him his forever home—which turned out to be with me, my husband, and our cat.

With the Fourth of July coming up, I’ve been worried. He’s been through so many changes, and the sound of fireworks exploding can be terrifying to even the most secure of dogs (pictured above, a doggie before a Fourth of July celebration in 2018 in Boston). Every year after the holiday, I hear countless stories about pets that got scared and escaped during the commotion of the fireworks. Is Sherman going to be OK? (This year, much of the U.S. has seen an extended fireworks season. Residents in dozens of cities and neighborhoods around the country have reported hearing fireworks almost nightly for weeks.)

It’s not just pets who may become anxious around fireworks. For combat veterans, refugees from conflict zones, and victims of gun violence, the sound of fireworks can trigger a panic attack or flashbacks of a traumatic event. People with autism and other sensory processing or anxiety disorders may also struggle.

The good news for us is that Sherman turns out to be easily the most laid-back dog I’ve ever met. He doesn’t glance twice at our cat, and he’s walked past rabbits in our front yard like they don’t exist. Doorbells, other dogs’ barks, and the slam of the screen door barely elicit an ear twitch. If I had to guess, I’d say he’s barely going to notice fireworks. Show him a piece of turkey, though…

This Fourth of July, keep your pets safe and check out the American Veterinary Medical Association’s tips. For resources about PTSD, anxiety disorders, and fireworks, check out this University of Miami health blog post.

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