Such reactions to loud noise are common among dogs and can include frenzied fence jumping, said Dorsett-Pate, director of the Galveston Island Humane Society. Each year during fireworks season, the shelter sees an increase in lost pets that have bolted in the midst of pyrotechnic terror.
"Fireworks tend to be very frightening," said Dorsett-Pate. "There's a lot of noise, sometimes lights and sounds with them that dogs don't get, so that frightens them, and they have a tendency to do whatever it takes to try and get away from it."
Dr. Melanie Bolling, a veterinarian for the Small Animal Hospital at Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, agrees.
"A lot of dogs are noise phobic, whether it's fireworks or other loud noises such as guns, cars backfiring and thunderstorms," she said. "These noises are scary, and if you didn't know what it was, you might be concerned about your safety, too."
Livestock also can be rattled July 4, when whistling rockets and explosive pyrotechnics spread a sudden comet of stars.
"Our livestock don't understand fireworks are festivities rather than a frightening episode, basically," said Phoenix L. Rogers, Galveston County extension agent specializing in agriculture and natural resources.
"The noises and lights inspire their survival instincts to kick in, and they are not desensitized to that kind of stimulation. They're not exposed to fireworks daily like they are to car engines and other stuff that won't spook them as much."
Livestock might try to jump fences, jump out of stalls or bolt.
"Spooked animals can pose a risk to themselves as they try to get out of the situation and to people who might be in their path," Rogers said.
Common signs of fireworks phobia include:
• Your pet running to you, shaking and trembling;
• Excessive panting;
• Whimpering, barking and howling;
• Trying to hide, to get into the house, out of the house, fence or enclosure; and
• Loss of bladder or bowel control
Tips for the best way to handle fireworks phobia range from providing safe havens to "thunder jackets," a snugly fitting wrap that calms with constant pressure, for dogs.
"Preferably, leave your pets indoors because if they're afraid of fireworks, they're going to try to run," Dorsett-Pate said.
"I've known people with the best, well-behaved dogs that become frightened, break through a fence and will do whatever it takes to get away, and are lost."
At a glance
What to do for noise-phobic pets
• For all your pets, have a microchip implant — about the size of a grain of rice — placed under the skin by your veterinarian so your lost pet can quickly be matched to you.
• Make sure the pet collar carries current identification and rabies tags.
• If possible, keep your pet indoors in a quiet, escape-proof section of the house or in their crate if they are crate trained. Provide their favorite chew toys and blankets.
• Consider a "thunder jacket" for dogs with noise phobias. The jacket straps on snugly, applying constant, calming pressure.
• If your pet runs away, contact the closest shelter immediately.
• For skittish livestock, consider housing them in a barn with adequate space and ventilation during the hot weather.
What not to do
• Don't reward inappropriate actions with treats and praise, the Animal Alliance of Galveston County notes on its website. It suggests to reward good behavior such as responding to commands during the noises.
• Don't respond with anxiety, threats or punishment; you might further aggravate the pet's fears.
• Don't set off fireworks close to livestock and barns.
Our black lab Buddy just goes inside our walk in closet. It's an "L" shaped room and he just goes to the back of the "L" and lays on a dog bed we have put in there for him. Once he's in there he just lays down and there is a noticeable decrease in his anxiety levels.
For best results don't have your pet in the area where fireworks/firecrackers are being detonated.
- Fireworks can cause quite a frenzy in even the calmest of pets. Be sure your animal is safe and secure and inside. Even if your pet is often fine in a fenced yard be sure to bring them inside the house, laundry room, or garage during the commotion. A stressed out pet may dig or bolt due to the noise. In addition, find a dark, calm space for your pet to hide out, and you may consider background noise like a television or radio to help drowned out the impending booms.
- It's not just the noise from fireworks that make them dangerous. A lit firework can cause severe burns and/or trauma to your pet. And unlit fireworks pose a threat as well. The ingredients used in many fireworks can be dangerous to a curious pet.
- Tags and chips are your pet's best friend. Be sure your microchip is up to date, and check collars and tags to make sure they are readable and in good condition. If your pet does become lost you want them to have the best possible chance of finding their way home quickly and safely.
- Nothing says Fourth of July quite like outdoor picnics and bar-b-ques. Keep in mind animals can suffer from heat stroke just like a human. Make sure you give pets plenty of breaks from the heat. If you plan to be out in the heat all day, you may opt to leave Fido at home.
- Skip the scraps. While it may seem like a great idea to reward Rover with scraps from the grill, many festive foods and products can be hazardous to pets. Keep your pet on their normal diet. Any change, even for one meal, can lead to sever indigestion and upset stomach. Examples of everyday hazards include avocados, grapes, raw/undercooked meat, and onions.
- Pit falls of the barbeque pit! Never leave your dog unattended with a barbeque pit while it is in use. That delicious food might be too much for your pet to resist. An overturned pit could cause serious damage to your dog in the blink of an eye, not to mention a potential fire hazard. There are a few barbeque staples you need to keep out of your dog's reach: alcohol – alcoholic drinks have the potential to poison pets; matches and lighter fluid – if ingested, both can cause harm to Fido and lighter fluid can cause skin irritation as well; citronella – candles, insect coils and oil products can cause stomach irritation and possibly damage a pets central nervous system.
- Mosquito manio! Mosquitoes are a way of life in the United States, but repellant products made for humans often contain DEET – an ingredient that can induce vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst and drooling in our pets. Look for a pet specific mosquito repellant to use on your dog this holiday.