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Pets Aren’t the Only Ones Loud Fireworks Can Traumatize

a colorful fireworks displayDeposit Photos

We always hear how loud fireworks can scare dogs every July 4. But there’s another group that we need to think about this time of year.

My Collie is terrified of thunder. It’s one of the few things that really make him uncomfortable, even when he’s safe and inside. Loud fireworks have the same effect since they sound like thunder.

CBS News reported that those loud sounds and bright flashes can trigger a dog’s “fight or flight” response. Shelters report the July 4 holiday leads to many dogs who run away in a panic and ending up in shelters or worse.

The American Veterinary Medical Association lists things you should do before the fireworks start. Those include making sure your pet is microchipped and the data on that chip includes your correct contact information. It also recommends having a dog collar with a tag and have a current photo of your pet.

There are other things you should to make sure your pet stays safe even if you do keep them indoors during fireworks shows.

READ MORE: 10 Facts About the Fourth of July

My dog will be indoors and he has his crate whenever he feels he needs his “safe space.”

But loud fireworks don’t only cause anxiety for pets

Every year, we hear about the danger for our four-legged friends. But what we hear less often is the concern about our military veterans.

If you think about it, it isn’t hard to imagine the obvious problem. Imagine being in a war with mortars exploding all around you. Imagine the trauma those who’ve been in real-life battles would experience.

Some of our veterans come home with post-traumatic stress disorder. Now imagine those same veterans struggling not to remember what they’ve been through when those fireworks begin exploding around them.

Yes, their sacrifices give us the opportunity to continue celebrating the Fourth of July every year. But their mental state should at least make us consider what they’ve been through for us!

Annie Tang, a staff psychologist at Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital, told the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs why fireworks can be triggering for veterans:

Tang explained that the brain is very good at pairing things, especially threat. Combat Veterans and those who worked in combat zones can pair threat with whatever was in that environment, including things they saw, heard or smelled. 

These pairings can continue after returning to civilian life. So, when fireworks or other loud noises occur, a Veteran’s brain can feel in danger. 

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

So if you plan to launch your own fireworks, what can you do to be compassionate for those who’ve served? If you think it’s an unreasonable question, maybe you should spend a little less time thinking about yourself.

The VA offers some suggestions, which include:

  • If you’re planning to host fireworks, let people who live nearby know there will be fireworks.
  • Notify guests ahead of time if fireworks are a part of the celebration.
  • If possible, ask guests if fireworks are a difficult reminder.
  • Consider the meaning and value of using fireworks versus other alternatives, like sparklers or light shows.

The last suggestion is one that seems to be very difficult for people these days:

  • Show compassion—you can choose the celebration you want and at the same time you can respect the decisions others make for self-care.

However you mark the occasion, I hope you have a happy and safe Fourth of July. And that you show genuine appreciation for those who’ve made your celebration possible to begin with!

the authorPatrick
Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.

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