ER veterinarian Jonathan Babyak at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. (Kim Tunnicliffe/WBZ NewsRadio)
NORTH GRAFTON, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — It's that time of year again when veterinarians remind the public to think of the anxieties of their furry friends when enjoying Independence Day fireworks.
Even some humans are afraid of the intense pops and bangs—and emergency room vet Dr. Jonathan Babyak at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University tells WBZ NewsRadio's Kim Tunnicliffe that, for dogs, that fear is amplified.
"If I had to provide anyone with advice, it would be, if at all possible, keep your dog—any pet, really—away from being disturbed by fireworks because it's got to be terrifying for them," Dr. Babyak said. "We can't explain it to them, we can't talk to them about it, we can't rationalize with them. We owe it to them to try to provide them with a safe space."
Dr. Babyak said dogs can become extremely anxious during fireworks, panting, shaking, and cowering.
"Those behavior changes can be permanent, in the sense that they're always now afraid of loud noises," he said. "When dogs work themselves into a panic, they become at risk medically. They can't sweat like people can, so when they become very anxious they start panting, they can't cool their bodies down. That can result in a heat stroke-like situaiton to them, which is going to be life-threatening."
The doctor wants to remind pet owners that fireworks don't just happen on July 4, so they should keep alert all week.
He adds that sometimes, canines try to get away from the noise by running off from owners, and that can put them in dangerous situations.
"We've certainly had dogs try to escape through even windows, open doors, run into places where they shouldn't like the middle of the road," Dr. Babyak said.
He recommends owners take their dogs to safe places like basements to avoid the loud noises, but a thunder jacket on them, or try to distract them with play and treats. They should be with people they trust, and not locked in a crate, for example.
WBZ NewsRadio's Kim Tunnicliffe (@KimWBZ) reports