Did you know that more dogs run away on the Fourth of July than any other day of the year. Fireworks, thunderstorms, and other loud explosive noises are terrifying to many dogs. About ten years ago, I had a golden Lab named Nikki. She was a great, easy-going dog most of the time. We had no clue she was terrified of fireworks. â
The Fourth of July is my favorite holiday. I love fireworks, summertime, picnics, and barbecues. I decided with my family to go see fireworks out on the Arkansas river from our fishing boat to celebrate the holiday. We loved taking Nikki with us on the boat and she always enjoyed a nice boat trip too. She had been fine during storms and lightning. We spent the day fishing and swimming. It was perfect until the sun went down and the fireworks started. My poor, normally calm dog, panicked. She desperately wanted to escape the boat and the exploding fiery sky. She tried to crawl into any hiding space that she could find. She tried to create hiding spaces. She was panting heavily and trembling. We had made a huge mistake subjecting her to fireworks. We had no idea that she would react so badly. We should have thought it through better - but we didn't. She was fine around shooting, thunder and lightning so we thought it would be okay. We were wrong. If we had not been on a boat, she would have bolted. I hated seeing her so frantic while knowing that it was completely my fault and could have been easily prevented. I should have left her at home where there were no fireworks going off in our neighborhood. Or, better yet, stay home and make sure she would be ok. Donât assume your dog is ok with untested stressors. Better safe than sorry.
I have a border collie now named Betty that I know is afraid of thunderstorms. I rescued her when I lived in Arkansas where there are frequent storms. She trembles and hides under the bed or in her covered crate until the storm has passed. Her fear is not nearly to the same level of panic that Nikki had during fireworks. Still, this is not a dog that I would take out in public on the Fourth of July. We donât even take walks during thunder. We wait until it passes to go for potty breaks. I would never leave her in the backyard during a storm even if she had shelter. I would not trust her to stay in the yard. She is just too afraid.
Because fear of fireworks and thunder is so common among dogs, I would not recommend taking any dog out to enjoy fireworks. As much as we may love fireworks, we have learned to love them. Fiery explosions in the sky is what dogs see. It is unreasonable and unfair to your poor dog to think they will share your love of fireworks. I learned this the hard way. Donât be like me.
That is the question that I have been asking myself for the last couple of weeks.
Is it separation anxiety?
Is it a scent on the carpet? I was shampooing my carpet daily and it was getting old.
Is she making a statement?
Has she lost her mind? This was what I really thought it was. It didn't seem to matter that I had increased her potty break frequency. I was at my wits' end. What in the world had changed?
Well, it was none of the things I thought it could be. I noticed a spot of blood in her urine and I took her to the vet. The poor dog had a UTI (urinary tract infection). It was a bona fide medical reason that was easily treated with antibiotics. I felt like a terrible dog mama. The desire to frequently urinate was also distracting her. She needed longer walks and fewer distractions because she was much more uncomfortable than usual. Lesson learned. Always check for medical reasons if your pet's behavior has changed suddenly.