The dogs will lose their intellects. They always do. Every Fourth of July in America, as children stay up past their bedtime to watch colors explode in the sky and adults sit on the back of pickup trucks drinking beer and marveling at a pyrotechnic technology 12 centuries old, pets across the country panic with every boom.
Sound phobias are very common for dogs–and cats–making this holiday a nightmare for millions of animals. “Half of the dogs in my practise are dealing with fireworks fear this week, ” says veterinarian and animal clinical behavior resident Amy Learn, whose clinic in Richmond, Virginia, insures more than 2,000 clients annually. For many dogs, the nightmare has already begun. A quick search on Twitter proves people across the land complaints about neighbours popping fireworks off early. In Boston, where I live, they first started exploding in the middle of last week. The German shepherd next door has been pacing back and forth every night since, nails skittering across the floor.
That behavior is typical for puppies with loud noise phobia. Learn says you’ll know if your animal has abnormal fear of loud voices if they don’t recover from the initial shock of hearing the sound right away. If your puppy is pacing, howling, panting, and trying to run as far away from the sound as possible; if your cat is hiding, its ears cocked back, its eyes distended, they need help. Every year around this date, people flock to Google to search “How to keep a dog pacify during fireworks.” One answer that frequently shows up at the top of the results: nervousnes shirts or thunder vests.
These come in two main designs–a spandex T-shirt that’s meant to give an animal a balanced hug, and a vest with straps designed to put pressure on particular areas of the body. “Their job is to squeeze, ” Learn says. “It’s postulated that it feels like a hug.”