Fireworks and July 4th go hand-in-hand, however with town and cities across Massachusetts cancelling annual fireworks displays, many have begun shooting off fireworks in their backyards and neighborhoods.

Calls to authorities regarding fireworks in Boston are up a reported 2,300 percent, and surrounding states where the sale of fireworks are legal are reporting a tremendous surge in sales.

First, fireworks are illegal in Massachusetts, and second, the sudden explosions can be detrimental and dangerous for our pets.

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Many dogs are afraid during a thunderstorm, and while thunderstorms and fireworks can be loud, there’s a huge difference between the two.

“When storms happen, the barometric pressure will tell them that it’s coming; not with fireworks and it’s so detrimental,” says Laney Nee, ARL’s Shelter Behavior and Enrichment Manager.

Fireworks can cause behavioral issues that may last for a long time, and signs to watch out for include:

  • Shaking
  • Drooling
  • Howling or barking
  • Pacing
  • Trying to find a place to hide
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control

“Dogs only communicate with their voices, their mouths, their paws and their body language and when we interact with them (while they’re exhibiting signs of fear) there is a possibility they may redirect that fear into an aggressive behavior,” Nee said.

Additionally, the loud noises and bright lights of fireworks may also cause a dog to run off. During this time of year, shelters around the national typically see an increase in lost dog reports.

How to Help

We of course want to keep our pets safe.

The first and easiest step to take is to make sure that your pet is wearing a collar with identification tags, and if they are microchipped, to be sure that the contact information is current and correct; as a precaution just in case they become lost.

You can also set them up in a room with some of their favorite toys, turn on some soft music, a television, or a white noise machine to help drown out the noises caused by fireworks.

If you are concerned about the bright lights, you can also move your pet into a room with no windows, however you may need to prepare for the chance they may run when the door is opened.

There are also medications to help reduce stress and anxiety, however this is something that needs to be discussed with your veterinarian to determine which, if any, medication would be appropriate for your pet.

ARL FREE Pet Behavior Helpline

ARL’s Pet Behavior Helpline is a FREE service, and can answer basic behavioral questions about your pet, such as excessive barking, crate training, house soiling, or if you are looking for ways to stave off your pet’s boredom.

If you have questions, please call the Pet Behavior Helpline at (617) 226-5666 or via email and an ARL representative will get back to you within 48 hours.