The grill is fired up and the smell of hot dogs and cheeseburgers fills the warm summer air. It’s finally here – the 4th of July. For many, it’s the official start of summer. The day is spent at the beach or at a backyard barbecue with friends, family and of course some furry pals! While the holiday isn’t complete without the explosive bursts of fireworks lighting up the night sky – this can be the most stressful night of the year for your dog.
The American Kennel Club believes that more pets are reported missing on July 4th than any other day of the year. It’s easy for a pet to get loose during an endless rotation of guests entering and leaving an all-day backyard party. It also may take hours before someone notices that the dog is actually missing and not just elsewhere in the home. In addition to your dog possibly giving you the slip out the side door, the stress from fireworks can cause your dog to act out with unusual behavior.
The burnt sulfur smell, unexpected loud explosions, and; the flashing of lights, which to humans can seem magical, may cause extreme stress and adrenaline rushes in your dog. The adrenaline rush could trigger your dog’s instinct to run to find a safe place to hide. If your dog is uneasy during thunderstorms, you can expect to see the same symptoms and behaviors during fireworks.
While commercial fireworks may be bigger than the ones used by homeowners at backyard parties, commercial fireworks are set off higher in the sky which creates a lower level of sound for the viewers on the ground. Non-commercial fireworks often exceed 150 decibels; to put this in perspective, your dog can hear sounds at -5 decibels. Non-commercial fireworks set off in the backyard can be both stressful and very painful.
Smithsonian Magazine reported that older dogs may show more symptoms of pain and stress during a firework display. Older dogs lose their ability to hear higher frequency sounds, which is how they determine the location of possible threats. If your dog can hear the explosion but can’t figure out where the threat is, this can cause your dog to panic and trigger his instinct to run and hide.
There are ways to help your pet cope with the anxiety of fireworks. The American Kennel Club explains that taking your dog for a long walk before the festivities begin can help ease anxiety; and playing white noise on the television or radio in a room with few windows can help to create a safe haven for your dog.
Many pet owners are also turning to CBD oil. The Huffington Post spoke to Dr. Ibrahim Shokry, a professor of pharmacology and toxicology at the Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine with over 30 years of veterinarian experience, about treating dog’s firework anxiety with cannabidiol (CBD) – not to be confused with the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which causes psychoactive effects when ingested. Whilst CBD oil is derived from the marijuana plant, if processed correctly using nanotechnology, it contains zero psychoactive properties and will not give a human or a dog a “high” feeling.
It [CBD] can be used in the treatment of certain types of seizures, to control pain, inflammation, nausea, vomiting, to stimulate appetite and to manage anxiety. However, all these uses are based on experiences, but controlled clinical studies are needed in dogs and cats to establish efficacy and safety. – Dr. Shokry explains,
The Huffington Post also spoke with Dr. Adam Christman, an award-winning veterinarian from New Jersey and a board member of the New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association who has written books and created YouTube videos about pet wellness. While scientific studies on CBD oil and dogs are still in the early stages, Dr. Christman refers to the 2017 Cornell University study, which confirmed that CBD oil administered to dogs with osteoarthritis increased their comfort and activity levels.
While both doctors agree that more research is still needed to determine all of the effects of CBD in pets as per Dr. Showry,
CBD is generally safe to use on pets if you’re buying pet products from a reputable source and use them in the correct dose. The substances’ sedating and calming effects may help the animals cope with the anxiety caused by fireworks.
Many pet parents have personally found CBD oil to be beneficial for their dogs who suffer from anxiety or pain from fireworks/thunder. More scientific studies as to the effects of CBD on pets are still currently in the works. As any responsible pet parent already does – always reach out to your veterinarian when considering new products or treatments for your dog.