These days, it doesn't have to be Fourth of July to hear fireworks in your neighborhood — which can mean several days of freaking out our four-legged friends.

Peter Falk, a spokesperson for the New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association, said dogs often have more of an issue with fireworks than cats. They often have bad reactions to the lights and sounds of the pyrotechnics.

"It's important to know your dog and understand how they may behave," he said.

 

Some dogs may try to hide when they experience fireworks, while others can become destructive. Fireworks are also the reason that more dogs run away from home on July 4th than any other day of the year, Falk said.

Because of that, he said, it's important that dogs have some sort of identification on them, and ideally are microchipped so that if they do run, they can be returned home safely.

"If a dog has an experience where they're faced with something or a stimulus that they're not going to be happy with, they want to avoid it," he said. "Avoiding it means getting out of there. They may not know where they're going. They just want to go."

If dogs are afraid of fireworks, Falk said, there are things their owners can do to help them. This includes medication that can help them handle the loud noises, as well as special clothing that can help comfort dogs as well.

In some casesm tranquilizers can be beneficial, but Falk said it is important to consult with a veterinarian as dogs react differently to the medication.

"Tranquilizers in some dogs will work, and in others it may actually make things worse," he said.

Dog owners who also own fireworks that are now legal should also be extra cautious, according to Falk.

While larger fireworks are not legal in New Jersey, many sparklers are — but those can present problems for dogs as well. The sparklers can get hot, which can present a potential burn risk for dogs that might get too close.

He also said it is important to ensure dogs do not accidentally eat fireworks, as they can contain heavy metals which can be a serious health risk as well.

More tips on how best to handle pets and fireworks can be found on the Humane Society's website.