Firing off fireworks may cause stress to your dogs

Dec. 30—Celebrating and ringing in the New Year with fireworks may seem like fun to you, but to your four-legged furry friends New Year's Eve brings in much anxiety, stress, trembling and fright.

The loud booms of the fireworks can cause dogs, especially outdoor dogs, to become so stressed that they will break out of their backyards to try and get away from the noise.

Although it is illegal to fire off fireworks within the city limits, many people do it anyway to celebrate the new year coming in.

According to the American Society for the Prevention and Cruelty to Animals, nearly 1 in 5 pets go missing after hearing loud noises that include fireworks.

Daniel Villarreal, fire marshal for the city of Brownsville, said the best way to keep your pet from running away from the loud noises is to not set off fireworks and to bring your outside pets indoors.

If you are unable to bring your pets inside, he said pet owners should make sure fences are secured so the dogs cannot get out.

"Once they hear a loud noise, they like hiding in their dog houses or if you can find a place that is secure for them, that is good," Villarreal said.

"They get scared from the noise. A lot of them are not use to the loud bangs, basically dogs that are used to the noise go through some type of training," he said.

Villarreal said on New Year's Day, authorities often see dogs wandering along the streets trying to find their way home after escaping from backyards because of the loud noises.

"I'm pretty sure there's going to be a lot of them after the New Year's celebration," he said.

Villarreal said you should be cautious when approaching the lost dogs because they could still be stressed and might try to nip or bite you out of fear. "They are just trying to defend themselves. They are not a mean dog, but they are already afraid and in an unknown place now, so they kind of become hesitant of going up to people."

If you do plan to light fireworks on New Year's Eve outside the city limits, Villarreal said you should make to sure have bucket of water near you to put the fireworks in after they have been fired to prevent them from reigniting, adults should supervise their children if they are setting off fireworks, and you should stay 20 feet away or more from the fireworks being fired off.

The American Kennel Club offers the following tips to keep your pets safe during fireworks:

—Keep your dog inside for that evening

—Make sure your pet has a proper ID on it and is microchipped

—Create a safe haven for your dog inside your home away from windows, such as a basement or closet

—Play white noise such as leaving on a fan, television or radio

—Comfort your dog by staying home of leave them in the care of a trusted person

—Walk them before the fireworks start

—Desensitize your dog to the sound of fireworks

—Talk to your vet so you can discuss a medication that could help soothe your dog's anxiety.