July 4th fireworks might delight people, but they can make dogs run for cover.
Along with thunderstorms, these pyrotechnics can make July in Minnesota an anxious time for dogs, which are more sensitive than humans to flashing lights, vibrations and loud sounds.
Dr. Sarah Burgess, an animal behaviorist at the Family Animal Hospital in Minneapolis, said: "It can cause vomiting, severe shaking and seizure-like symptoms."
A firecracker can sound like a shotgun to a dog, said Burgess. "It is 10 times louder and the vibrations are 10 times stronger."
In the past few days, she said, she has seen a 15 percent increase in prescriptions for dogs for an anti-anxiety medication also used by humans to treat panic disorders.
"We don't recommend to ever take a pet to a fireworks display," said Carry Libera, spokeswoman for the Animal Human Society in Golden Valley. She suggested that people leave their dogs at home with a TV or radio on to drown out some of the fireworks noise.
She also said that every dog should have identification in case it gets out and runs off.
Animal control officer Chris Hutnik said 4 Paws Animal Control in Shakopee receives roughly triple the number of stray dog reports during the holiday, from three or four to 10 to 12.
Dr. Carla Killty, a veterinarian at New Hope Animal Hospital in Minneapolis, said that a Thundershirt, a kind of pressure-exerting vest, can help calm a dog. Even with that precaution, she advised keeping a dog on a leash and in a central room such as a bathroom that will help muffle the noise.
"I have heard of dogs who have even tried to break through windows and glass, trying to get away from noise," she said.
And in hot weather, regardless of fireworks or thunderstorms, never leave a dog unattended in a parked car.
Kristian Hernandez • 612-673-4217