America’s dog anxiety problem revealed
With Independence day celebrations just days away, Petted.com, America’s biggest pet insurance comparison website has analysed Google search data to reveal just how stressful the 4th of July can be on man’s best friend and where in this great nation, dogs are the most or least anxious over 4th of July:
- Every year, Independence day causes on average, a 162% increase in Google searches for “dog anxiety”.
- Google searches for “dog anxiety” have increased at their 4th July peak by 36% since 2018
- Petted.com predicts a 2022 all-time high for “dog anxiety” from concerned Pet Parents
- Montana dogs are America’s most stressed over the 4th of July
- Louisiana dogs are America’s least stressed over the 4th of July
Although dogs are fun-loving, bouncy and energetic, they are also very sensitive. Hearing loud noises like fireworks can be incredibly stressful for them. Petted.com has discovered that searches for “dog anxiety” peak every year around the 4th of July.
With this in mind, Petted.com called its resident pet behavior expert, Keira Wingader, to break down the signs to look out for if you think your pup could be stressed—and how to help them relax.
How to spot the signs of canine anxiety:
1 – Excessive panting
“Panting is a huge indicator of whether your pup is feeling stressed,” says Wingader. “It’s a common fear response and something to look out for, especially during a firework display. The panting is often accompanied by other stress responses, such as shaking and whining. If this occurs, it’s best to try and remove your dog from the stressful situation as quickly as possible.”
2 – Licking
“Licking is another common stress response that is a little more subtle. You may just think that your pup is giving themselves a good wash, when actually they are uncomfortable. In more serious cases of stress, excessive licking can cause hair to fall out and sore patches of skin.”
3 – Barking
“Although it can be frustrating when dogs use their voices excessively, we should still stop and think about why they are being loud,” says Wingader. “Sometimes they just love a good bark, or they’ve spotted the neighbors’ can in the garden, but other times it can be due to stress. They may be trying to get your attention, alerting you that they’re feeling unsafe. Alternatively, it could be their way of calming themselves down—kind of like a pep talk.”
4 – Pacing
“The kind of loud noises we have on the 4th of July can make dogs feel very unsettled. This may cause them to become restless and unable to get comfortable. It’s a form of stress relief as they are trying to shake off all their anxieties.”
5 – Shaking
“Much like humans, dogs shake when they are feeling nervous or apprehensive,” says Wingader. “This is a very common fear response to loud noises, such as fireworks. They may react like this because they feel their space is being invaded by something they can’t explain, causing them to tremble.”
How to help your dog cope with anxiety this July 4th
So now we know what to look out for, how can we calm our furry friends down? All dogs of different breeds will have totally different preferences when dealing with stress, but here are a few ideas that Wingader suggests trying during fireworks displays.
1 – Ensure they are in a safe space
This one may seem simple, says Wingader, but it’s one of the most effective. “If fireworks are stressing your pup out, then make sure the doors and windows are closed to keep it as quiet as possible. This is also beneficial to avoid your dog running outside and scaring themselves further. Maybe set up a little corner that’s sheltered for them to curl up in—it really makes a difference.”
2 – Prepare them for fireworks
You may have a young pup that hasn’t yet experienced their first Independence Day celebrations. So, if you’re worried about them getting stressed, you could always do a few things to prepare them. “Try playing firework sounds on the TV—maybe with a video of them too—so they begin to get used to the noise,” advises Wingader. “This way, it won’t be such a shock when they hear the loud bangs for the first time.”
3 – Use distraction techniques
“We all know dogs love a good treat or chew toy to keep them busy. This type of distraction might be useful when fireworks are going off. If they have something else to focus on, then they are more likely to be less stressed.”
4 – Lots of reassurance
“Whilst there are some dogs that need their own space during times of stress, others may want the opposite. Sometimes a big cuddle on the sofa or under a blanket can provide them with the security they need. Dogs are our big fluffy kids, so treating them with lots of love and affection is usually a winner.”
5 – Play music
“Music is an incredible resource that can help to chill out dogs in times of stress,” says Wingader. “Some dogs love to listen to anything from classical to a bit of pop to keep their minds distracted. By putting on some music, you are directing their attention to noises inside the house rather than outside, which can help to calm them down.”
Hans Seeberg, Petted.com Head of Brand said “Independence day is deservedly one of this great nations favorite holidays, but the distress to our four-legged friends is undeniable, so we want to let as many Pet Parents as possible know what to look out for this 4th of July and also, how they can try to alleviate any stress and anxiety your dog might feel about fireworks. We’re predicting this Independence day to be a record for the number of people looking up how to help their dog cope with anxiety, so if we know what to look for and how to help our dogs, there’s no reason the 4th of July can’t be enjoyed by everyone, including our dogs”.
America’s most anxious dogs over the 4th of July
Petted.com delved into historical Google trends data to find out exactly where in America our four-legged friends are the most and least anxious over the last 4 years.
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