How to keep your dog calm and safe during the Fourth of July fireworks

The Fourth of July means a day off from work, lounging by the pool and barbecues with friends -- but unfortunately, the holiday may not be so relaxing for many pet owners.

A 2013 study cited by Rover found that fireworks were "the most common trigger for fearful behavior" in canines. Because of the loud noises and spontaneity of the sounds, even dogs who don't normally display such anxious behavior may act out in ways such as trembling, hiding, urinating and destruction.

The study from Rover found a number of breeds, including "gun-dog breeds" such as Labradors and Cocker Spaniels, may be less fearful of fireworks, though "early life experience" with these sounds may make a difference in how the animals react. And while breeds such Shiba Inus and Wheaten Terriers were found to be more fearful, researchers have also investigated if there is a genetic predisposition to this noise sensitivity.

And, according to research from PetSmart, all of these frightening noises and stimulations can pressure your dog or cat into running away. "There's a 30-60 percent increase in lost pets in the U.S. on July 4th, and July 5th is one of the busiest days at animal shelters," explained its website.

Veterinarians have suggested a number of ways in which owners can calm their pets during the loud holiday celebrations. If you're unable to distract your dog with music, treats or toys or bring them to an area where the sounds are more muffled, a heavy blanket or pressure wrap may help.

"The vests work under the theory that pressure applied to the dog’s torso causes a calming effect similar to swaddling a crying infant or hugging a distressed person," explained Veterinarian Lynn Buzhardt for VCA Hospitals.

"Scientifically, gentle pressure releases chemicals called endorphins that promote a sense of well-being. That’s why stroking a dog firmly and slowly calms him down while a quick pat on the head gets him revs him up," she said.

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