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Helping Pets Who Dread the Fourth of July

senior dog

Signs of Dog Anxiety

“She will literally crawl up my body and try to sit on my head, that’s how nervous she gets!”Who can imagine, a 50-pound Golden Retriever, trying to sit on one’s head?! My aunt laughs as she tells this story of Faith’s case of dog anxiety, and I glance over to one of her two adopted retrievers, Faith, as she sits in the cool shade of a sun umbrella. It is a bright, late-Spring afternoon and my family and I are having a small family get-together in my aunt and uncle’s back yard.

My aunt continues, “We try to find quiet places to travel to, just so she will be okay. She just can’t handle the fireworks and it’s too loud at home.”

“We went to a desolate lake one time in Idaho — but we forgot that people also shoot guns in the air,” my uncle chimes in.

My aunt and uncle are active, avid dog people, and always have been. Their latest rescue, Faith, has showed family and friends the lengths they will go to keep their dogs happy and healthy.

Frazzled Faith

Faith has a severe case of dog anxiety and unfamiliar or sudden sounds can send her in a panic. My aunt and uncle have brought Faith to see the veterinarian multiple times, and her neurological condition has been hard to diagnose and treat.

When Faith hears something that frightens her, she will bump her head repeatedly against walls or cabinets, sometimes hurting her nose or forehead. Or, as said before, she will climb up your body to try to sit on your shoulders or head. 


senior dog standing

My aunt and uncle often travel in early July, to escape to quiet campgrounds and away from the hustle and bustle of Southern California. They have tried all kinds of remedies to help Faith, and find that a blend of medication and removing the source of fear for her, fireworks in this case, is best. And heck, they get a vacation out of it, too.

However, not everyone is retired like my aunt and uncle are (I am always jealous of their trips!) or have the ability to travel. What’s a pet parent to do when a beloved furry bestie is frightened by holiday hoopla?

Avoiding Fourth of July Dog Anxiety

While Faith’s story of dog anxiety is on the more severe side of pet anxiety, there are plenty of pets out there that are afraid of loud noises, whether it be on July 4th or just any day. Anxiety can exhibit in a number of ways: barking or howling, pacing, hiding, panting, shivering, or trying to escape are just a few manifestations.

Here are a few tips to keep your pet calm and comfortable:

Create a safe indoor space. Create a quiet, safe space for your pet away from the cause of anxiety. Perhaps this is a bedroom closed off from a busy backyard party, or a crate placed in a quiet corner of the house. Place objects with familiar smells around the space, such as blankets, pillows or favorite toys.

“But my pet loves to be outside, why should it have to be inside?” The day after the 4th of July is one of the busiest days for animal shelters — all those scared, lost pets are found and brought to the shelter in hopes their families will find them. Help out animal shelters — and your beloved furry friend — and keep pets inside on Independence Day.

If your pet exhibits symptoms anxiety, talk to a veterinarian about medical or behavioral options. You can schedule a video or chat appointment today through Hello Ralphie with our new behavior professional, Dr. Joan Capuzzi, author of “A Complete Guide to Raising a Happy Puppy in a Positive Environment.”

Music, TV or white noise. If you have a white noise machine, use it. This will help drown out the sound of fireworks. If you don’t have a white noise machine, try a radio on a gentle station or even turn the TV on low for background noise.

This may seem obvious, but do not bring pets to firework displays or busy events. Even if your pet isn’t normally anxious, being that close to something as loud and unexpected as fireworks may cause them to bolt or run.

Try a pet comfort bed or anxiety wrap. These products work off the theory that pressure applied to animal’s body will help relieve anxiety; think of it like swaddling a baby.

A Leap of Faith

senior dogs standing


As I look at Faith laying happily on the patio tiles today, with her trusty tennis ball in tow, I don’t even notice her dog anxiety. She is a friendly, sweet dog who enjoys playing tug with her adopted brother, McGraw, and hanging out with the grandkids. I am happy she has a family who accepts her as she is and do their darndest best to keep her calm, comfortable and mentally healthy.

Sometimes it’s hard to know how best to care for our pets. It takes the help of family, friends, a personal veterinarian, and maybe a vacation or two, to live and grow together.

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