Why are dogs afraid of fireworks

A Spark of Fear: Why Are Dogs Afraid of Fireworks?

We love to “ooh” and “ahh” over the glorious bursts of color and light that are fireworks. But for our dogs, those bangs and booms are anything but enjoyable.

In fact, more dogs run away on the Fourth of July than on any other day of the year. When those fireworks go off, all your dog can think to do is run and hide wherever he can.

So what is it about fireworks that sets your dog off so much? How can something that’s so enchanting to us be so terrifying to our pets?

Let’s take a look at fireworks from your dog’s perspective and find out just what’s so scary about them.

Three Reasons Why Dogs Are Afraid of Fireworks

Because They’re Loud

Dog under bed is afraid of fireworks

Saying fireworks are loud is a bit like saying the sky is blue or water is wet: duh! But it’s one of the biggest reasons why dogs don’t like them.

Even from miles away, fireworks are loud enough that some of us need hearing protection. So imagine what they’re like to dogs, whose hearing is far more sensitive than ours.

Your dog can hear sounds up to three times higher in pitch than you can. What’s more, he can hear sounds from up to four times further away than you can.

, So that high-pitched whistle of a firework shooting up into the sky is much, much louder to your dog than it is to you. And it also produces even higher-pitched sounds that you can’t hear — but your dog can.

Imagine being surrounded by noises that span your entire range of hearing at volumes so loud they hurt. Now imagine that there’s nowhere you can go to escape them and that those you usually turn to for help are busy having fun with the source of the noise.

That’s what fireworks are like for your dog.

We’ve yet to figure out a way to preserve the spectacular qualities of fireworks without the loud sounds. And until we do, our dogs will continue getting overwhelmed by the loud noises every Independence Day.

Because They’re Unpredictable

In terms of noise, fireworks are similar to thunderstorms, but even dogs that aren’t fazed by thunder and lightning are often terrified of fireworks.

And the loud, bass-heavy booms of fireworks aren’t too far removed from, say, a powerful stereo system. But your dog doesn’t cower in fear every time you play some music.

That’s because, compared to these noises, fireworks are incredibly unpredictable.

Dogs can tell when a thunderstorm is brewing long before the first dark clouds appear. They’re able to detect the changes in barometric pressure that precipitate a storm, so they’re able to brace themselves for the booms.

The sounds produced by thunder are also quite predictable. Thunderclaps may not follow a consistent rhythm, but they usually sound very similar to one another, and flashes of lightning let you know that thunder’s coming.

And the same goes for the low, loud sounds of drums and bass in music. The patterns and predictability of music let your dog get used to the noises and tolerate them without panicking.

Fireworks, on the other hand, produce a wide array of sounds at highly unpredictable intervals. One minute could be filled with whizzes, bangs, fizzles, and rat-a-tats; the next could be silent save for a few startling booms.

Without a pattern to let him know what to expect, your dog naturally gets a little on edge when he hears fireworks. When that state of anxiety gets prolonged, as it does during a fireworks show, it can quickly escalate into full-blown terror.

Because They’re Inescapable

Yorkshire terrier peeking from woman

Loud, unexpected noises trigger your dog’s fight-or-flight response. If he opts to fight, he may start barking incessantly, reacting with apprehension or even aggression to anyone he sees.

But for the majority of dogs, the instinct to flee is stronger. When the fireworks begin, your dog whine, tremble, cower, tuck his tail between his legs and run for cover.

Both of these responses are natural reactions to perceived threats: either attack and drive the threat away… or run and hide where it can’t cause any harm.

The problem is that fireworks are so loud that there’s often nowhere for your dog to hide from them.

Being indoors may help, but depending on your home’s proximity to the fireworks, the noises could still be loud enough to cause your dog distress. He may retreat to the basement or curl up under the bed, but it can still feel like there’s no escape from the sounds.

And if your dog is outside, he’s likely to run away in an attempt to get away from the fireworks. Again, though, he’ll find that there’s nowhere he can go that the sounds won’t reach him, adding to his fear and panic.

Most things are less scary when we know we have a way to escape them. So it makes sense that fireworks and their inescapable noises alarm your dog like nothing else on the planet.

"If you think dogs can’t count, try putting three dog biscuits in your pocket and then give him only two of them."
--Phil Pastoret

51 thoughts on “Barking at Heaven’s Door: Do Dogs Know When They Are Dying?”

  1. This was a lot to read. I just want to say, they do know. My baby girl Baby, she was laying in my arms and lap. She looked deep in my eyes, licked my tears on my right cheek and laid her head on my chest, and went to heaven. She didn’t like to go to the vets office, but that day she wasn’t like she normally was, when I sat on the floor she laid in my lap, she knew. Her uterus ripped. She was 14 years old, so even if you don’t have the money find it and get your dog fixed, nothing else was wrong with her.

      1. Letting her go was the right thing to do, for her. Guilting yourself into thinking money is to blame will only satisfy your need to feel bad ( seems ridiculous but we, as in humans, interject way to much into our pets psyche
        in an attempt to humanize our 4 legged fur baby’s). You had just mentioned how much Baby feared the vet so why would you subject her to numerous visits. Just imagine if something went wrong? Embrace her memory as your loving companion who thanks you for being her human mom, 14 years of unconditional love and putting her needs before yours.
        Money is an easy scapegoat to blame; long and short of it is that if she was supposed to have had the surgery the money would have presented itself.

    1. Our dog abby will be 10 great health. She developed alittle lump by her nipple so we brought her in right away. They said they wanted to spay her and remove lump. I agreed. They took bloodwork everything was fine. They did a radio graph to see if lumps spread and they didnt. Stitches get removed from lump next friday. So yes get them spade. We had our other dog nurtured so I didn’t think spay was necessary but it is for there own health. Im so sorry about your little girly … xo

    2. I’ve had about 30 JRT over the last 20 years most of them lived to 18 years apart from three that suffered from dementia and had to have them euthanised.
      I still have Belle she’s going on 18 years old her sight and hearing is failing but fortunately she still has a great appetite
      I’m going on eighty two years old and I’m looking forward to seeing all of my beautiful furry children in the hereafter. Bless you all and your beautiful furry children.

      1. Hello Torence,
        I have an elderly dog as well.
        I’m curious to know what you feed yours. I don’t know if that’s what it is, but you must be doing something right for them to live so long.

        1. Hi my fur babies name is tessie and she is 13.5 years old she has cushions disease. I gave her the one and only medication the vet has for this condition. It got to a point that I count get the capsule down her so she is now on all natural meds one for cushions disease one is cancer support and cbd oil and so far she is doing ok. Please pray she does well. On this medication. She is my heart. Than you for listening

          1. My romeo yorkshire terrer of 17 is very sick with a bad cough 4 2 yrs now. My parents have him n wont let me b with him hes dying n bcuz of this c

      2. Hi there,
        Couldn’t help but see you are a JRT lover. Mine 16 yo JRT just passed away a week ago. I am still grieving the loss of my best friend. He died of lymphoma. He had all the signs of an old man; slight dementia (we think?), arthritis, slow, poor sight and hearing. Other than all that, he was fine. Then the next day he got really sick, within 12 hours, he was basically gone. I had him put to sleep, but he had basically already passed, juat barely breathing. I couldn’t stand the thought of him suffering. He wasn’t responsive to my voice or anything. It was such a shock to see how quickly he went. a few hours before his passing, he would bark on and off. Not a bark of pain, just a normal bark. As he would on and off bark, I would hold him and try my best to comfort him and he just had a blank stare in his eyes. no eye contact with me. I still want to know why he barked like that. about 2 hours prior to him passing. he was very calm and peaceful looking. not responsive, but appeared very peaceful which made me feel so much better. Anyhow, hoping someone on here could possibly shed light on this. Take care of your 18 year old. 🙂

        1. Hello Ace,

          Our beloved Schnoodle had a similar experience with the barks. We recently returned from a week long vacation. He was staying at Grandma’s house which he always loved. He was 15 years old with diabetes, cushings, and arthritis. When we got home something was off. He was stumbling like a boxer after getting hit by a hard punch. He would go to the ground and yelp periodically several times in a row and breathe hard. This was all very hard for us and we contemplated taking him in to put him down. Rather than putting him down, we snuggled with him in bed. His eyes now had more of a distant gaze than the inquisitive look that he always stared at us with. He yelped on and off, breathed hard, and rested his head on our chest as he appeared to be approaching his last moments. We kept caressing him, telling him how much we loved him and his body became more relaxed and breathing became slower. Finally around 4:30am he made a couple final stretches and he laid motionless and passed away. We slept with him that night until his warm body started to cool off later the next day. I can’t help but think he waited for us to come home so we could comfort him in his final moments, just like he comforted us in our worst moments for all of our time with him. He was such an incredibly loving dog and I know those yelps in the final moments were part pain, but also part of his spirit saying to us how much he loved us and that we would be okay. It has been 3 days since he passed and each has been very hard. The beauty of it all is that he died peacefully in his favorite spot with us, and that his love that he gave will always carry on and be remembered in our hearts.

    3. My 13 1/2 old boy Chillin, passed away two months ago, I dropped for a regular check up and dental cleaning, the night that I picked him up, he started coughing and kind of throwing up, I took him to emergency, they did wrong diagnosed him and two days later I took back the Banfield, after hours battling they told me nothing to do for him just putting him down, I have being feeling guilty all this time like I turned him in for that. I just can’t deal with this feeling, two nights before we were in our porch as we did infinite times, but this time I noticed he was crying in silence, I recorded part of that and the I grabbed and cuddled him to comfort him, I never saw coming this end.

      1. Sadly I lost my pal Alfie on the 8th of October, Sad Dad! He hadn’t been well for a while and couldn’t walk apart from weeing and pooing and laying in it, bless him! But he had a good life and was fifteen and nearly one month old!

  2. As a child growing up, our three dogs were our constant companions. Each had their own personality, Dutchess: intelligent, bilingual, our guardian, Fritz: not too bright, skittish, but affectionate, Spanky, the spoiled baby of the bunch, refusing any and all attempts at learning tricks.
    As they aged, they let us know in their own way when their time was near. Dutchess, who was so well behaved, never pulling on her leash, never even flinching at toddlers climbing on her, trying to ride her like a pony, suddenly bolted while on a walk and tried to jump off a 15 foot drop off. The only way I could describe it was that she was trying to commit suicide. Later that day, she became incontinent, started passing blood, and less than 12 hours later, had to be euthanized. She knew. And it broke my heart she knew.

  3. My dog just got tired over months, accepted all the care he needed, but just got weaker and weaker until his body just timed out. The vet saw him regular over those 6 months, weekly at the end, and said he was in no pain, just getting weaker with organ breakdown. It was sad, but he acted the same just wanting to be in the same room and laying nearby. He accepted the need to be carried outside and back in. He just fell asleep one last time and died a few minutes later. It was nice in that we did not have to make a decision to have him euthanized.

  4. I just had to put my perfect, precious boy down because he was so sick and my vet said it was time. I am hurting so much and don’t care if I ever get another dog. No dog could ever replace the amazing boy. Not handling the loss very well. He got so slow and had so many health issues in the end. I too believe he knew it was his time even tho I did not want to let him go.

    1. I’m so sorry for your loss.. Thats what I am going thru now, is that I don’t want to let him go

      1. I came to this post about, if your dog knows theyre dying because my German Shepherd mix, whose 13 yr old and my best friend, is living his last days. He isnt suffering but stopped eating and drinking very little water. He’s always been my protector and so loyal. He’s been the best dog Ive ever had and so humanly smart and pretty much trained himself. He only had to hear instruction 1 or 2 times and he knew what to do. I knew his time was coming as hes really slowed down the last year. We spent this summer pampering him, taking him everywhere on trips camping even to a cabin in winter to go snowmobiling. Ive fed him smoked salmon and rib eye steak before he started to refuse food. Today as weak as he is, gets up to see where I am or to go out to potty and then lays down in the same spot. I think we would of lost him already but my daughter says he still wants to do his job of making sure Im safe. I do believe he knows whats up and he’ll fight it to the end.
        I love you with all my heart Petey. Until we met again Ill think of you everyday

        1. I’m so sorry for your loss. I lost my baby boy daschund of 13 years 4 months and 16 days. He was my everything. My best friend. He passed away on sept 17 from heart disease. But he gave me so much unconditional love till his last hours.❤❤❤ I miss him every second! Keep a look out for me copper. Will play together soon. I love you.

    2. Jackie, no other can ever replace your boy, ever. In honor of him, try to love another dog/pet. Your boy was a reflection of your love. Yes, it pains the soul to lose our babies but we owe it to them to keep the love and caretaking going. I have felt just like you, it’s hard, really hard. I have found that getting a new pet maybe two helps heal the soul and you help another dog/pet. Our pets bring much joy to our lives and each one teaches us, too. My condolences to you and I hope you reconsider.

    3. Am going through the exact same thing. Just put our own dog down 2 days ago. He just deteriorated over the last couple of months. Couldn’t get up , couldn’t do his business probably and had problems walking. Liver tumors were the culprit. He’s everywhere. In our house, the fields we walked over with him , it’s extremely difficult. We will never get another dog. There was only 1 Scooby

      1. My puppy is only month’s old,
        And I’m so sad she died so early,
        Before that there a sign that she is diging/ scratching on a plastic chair.

    4. Jackie I went through the same thing your dealing with until I got another puppy and it really helped me deal with my lost.

    5. Im so sorry. Our boy dewgy is almost 15 and has kidney failure. I can imagine that day. Last October they gave him 4-6 months but its now August and still kicking. We had bloodwork done nir long ago and his creatine level is up so they said probably he will be gone by fall. We have had him since 5 weeks old.

    6. Jackie
      I know exactly how you feel. Lost my best mate 4 years ago and still cry over her. Got a new one and she is equally beautiful. They love you just as much as you love them
      All the best

    7. So Sorry to hear,I just had my boy put down.It is a terrible feeling.One of the worst things i have had to do in my life.So Heartbreaking Something i never wanna go through again.HUGS TO YOU

  5. Because of this Pandemic, my Mom decided to buy 2 puppies and I grew fond of them as days pass by. I can say I am close to them and I even name them after the 5year old kids in Hospital Playlist, Mone, and Moje. I can really say that they know when they are dying, My baby Mone who is only 4 months old has sad eyes that scream death as he was suffering from a famous puppy virus that is caused by a rat. He lays down on my hand and looks at me sadly. We prepare him a comfortable darkroom for him to hid and sleep but he insists on transfer below our cabinet. We found him dead as we were about to let him drink his medicine water. I feel so sad and devastated for what has happened, my whole world collapsed and I can’t unsee all the corners of our house without remembering my puppy walking or playing. I miss him so much. I want to hug him tighter and never let him go. I love you baby Mone! I hope you are doing great up there! We love you so much Corgi doggo! Soar High my baby!

    1. 2019 We loss our girl dog that we had for thirteen years early this morning we loss our boy dog of twelve years. I’m still crying just can’t believe he is gone he stop eating start hiding last night my husband took him out to use it came back in he made this loud yelp sound took two deep breath and he was gone. WOW OUR HEARTS ARE CRUSHED

  6. Yes they know, they get slower and they know, something is different to them, they also hide their pain for survival tactics. My dog showed signs of something being wrong yet wouldn’t show this when at the vet 3 times, which is why she was misdiagnosed, especially if you have a strong breed; pit bull, German Shepard etc… They also change their behavior, they will do things differently than they used to and then may change back hours or days before their passing. They have a bucket list and want to do and go to places they liked, this can be a sign in itself of slowing down, aging. You always figure this out later when they have passed, but I think as humans we always know when something is wrong with our dogs but to protect ourselves we become in denial, it’s hard to face the reality of losing such an unconditionally loving animal companion. When I had to put my best friend down weeks ago, I made sure when I saw her for the last time, that I wasn’t a mess, crying, this can put them in distress, hold it together until they pass, then cry your eyes out later. They will be fine, no pain, but we have to deal with the after math on planet earth. Tell them how great they were, how much fun you had and that they will be with their other friends who’ve passed on and one day will meet you in the light when the time it right. Hope this helps. Oh and get another dog, all the memories and years of fun is so worth it, save another rescue dog if you can, they need homes. Wait some time and mourn but not too long so you don’t get depressed. The first dog is the hardest when you lose them, but believe me it gets better and you know their time isn’t forever and you just enjoy whatever time you have with them, make them have triple the life. My heart goes out to all of you who’ve lost an animal companion during this most difficult Covid-19 fiasco. Be good to yourself! I cannot live without another dog can you? Best. ST

  7. My dog Jackson passed in early May. He just turned 12 and kidney failure marked his passing.

    Waited a couple months to get our new puppy Betty.

    I still grieve the loss of my dog but, the puppy has filled the void of a new best friend.

    Had dogs all my life. The hardest part of having a dog is saying goodbye.

    I thought he had a couple more years, being healthy till the end but we both knew his time here was coming to an end.

    We were close to the end

    1. Our dog dewgy has kidney failure now also. Its been since before last October. We just had bloodwork done again and his creatine level is higher. Meds are maybe only helping abit. They said 4-6 months last October we are now aug but they say till the fall possibly

  8. Maybe there was only one Scooby-Doo, but there are thousands in shelters, on the streets, or otherwise in need.
    You could help save one, and in so doing, start healing.

  9. Hello Jackie reading your post brought back a lot of memories of when I lost my beloved Prince 12-13-15 of congestive heart failure. Had him for 12 yrs. He died in my arms after 6 months of doing whatever I could to keep him alive. I got him cremated and that helped for a while but something was still missing. I finally got another dog Princess and it was the best thing I ever could have done. So give yourself some time and find you another best friend.

  10. Francine Nunley

    To all of you. Your stories had me crying as we have lost 3 dogs over the last 3 years. My latest tragedy was Cavilli and she was at least 15 years old. She passed away on my Birthday 7-21-20. Yes it is true we need to move on. So I decided to play 721 until I get tired. I imagined Cavilli gave me this number as a gift. Smile

  11. The heart hurts so badly when you know they need to cross the Rainbow Bridge & after they cross the heart hurts just as bad !

  12. We lost our Sammy today at 315 holding him taking his last breath. His kidneys shut down after 4 years of fighting with diabetes. And he went blind years back but still loved his walks. I walked him for the last time today Sep. 5 2020. We got him when he was 8 weeks old. He was 14. I can not sleep tonight. We will miss him so much.we loved him so very much which I told him thru my tears as I was holding him as he passed. We also have another dog she is 9. Rest in peace Sammy. Mommy will miss our walks. I pray your playing in Heaven.

  13. My beloved Simba passed away this morning. He was suffering from acute renal failure. Over past 5 days, we saw his body deteriorate rapidly. It was not only painful for him, but we were also equally pained to see him losing his energy and will to live.
    Last night, after returning from doctors clinic, he went to every room in the house, met every family member before going to his room. At midnight, he insisted to move outside into the balcony; as I sat with him, I asked him to go now. He behaved as if he was seeking permission to go. Finally at 4 AM he left us.
    I am 100% sure that he was holding on because I wasn’t letting him go. He took permission before and then went into his final sleep. He knew he was going and his eyes communicated that to me everyday.

    May he rest in peace. Love You Simba.

  14. James Terlemezian

    Just lost my rescue from S.Caro , my Gabby Boy . After 10 1/2 years of happiness and love it was time for him to depart . He was a shy , Unsocialable 4 yr old when we adopted him . People came to realize and commend him as being such a handsome boy and sweet soul . His time arrived on September 10, 2020 , and as of now l am sad and crying . His memories and shared love will go on ! Love you Bubba , your friend and campion , Daddy . ❤️

  15. Our cat, Pasquel, lived to be 21 years old.
    Our dog, Rhett, a 75-pound mutt, is 15 years old now. He has never
    had any health problems over the years except for a couple ear infections.
    I always gave Pasquel several tablespoons and Rhett about half a cup of vanilla yogurt every morning.
    They always enjoyed/have enjoyed our morning “yogurt fest”. And I have always thought the yogurt with active cultures helped to maintain their good health and improved their longevity.
    I was born and reared in Appalachia. Sometimes we Appalachians tend to come up with
    our own tonics and cures! I guess that is what I am sharing with all you people who love your pets. This is just my own idea, and no vet ever recommended the yogurt; but I have a hunch it has been a good thing for my cat and for my dog!
    Blessings, Carolyn

  16. My Sophie died this morning 12 yrs she had 4 abcessed tests and was having a routine teeth cleaning as well… her lung was filled with water .. we rushed her to emergency hospital but sadly at 6:30 this morning I held her in my arms for the last time.. not sure really how she died just know I’m heartbroken.. only 4 wks ago we lost our oldest 32 grandson… he died in his sleep… I pray God can get me and my seeet husband thru this.. he of course thinks a puppy will do the trick I cannot fathom

  17. Thank you for the article, although I am left just as bewildered in trying to understand why our beautiful and brilliant 9-year-old German Shepherd passed away some time this morning. There were no signs of illness, distress or unusual behavior. We all went to bed as usual, my husband and I in our bed and she in her elevated bed next to us. When we woke up, she was gone. We are devastated.

  18. I am so very impressed with Simba’s story…. this one really really hit me hard… what a beautiful boy…. his love and loyalty are unbelievable…. this year my little Lhasa Apso passed July 9th… he was a minimum of 14… we had found him all alone walking and looking at traffic 13 years ago.. I’m so glad I got to hold him in his last moments, He was struggling to breathe that day, I was only wishing I had taken off work so I could have spent the whole day with him . I stepped out for just a minute and when I walked back in, I noticed he had taken his last breath. I cannot believe he’s not here anymore. He was with me longer than any dog I have ever had. My sweet little friend for so long. He was extremely intelligent,funny,sassy, happy….couldn’t have asked for a better friend. So many heartbreaking losses through the years. The one who hurt me the worst was my black German Shepherd boy Blue… no words can describe him… miss him every second of every day since November 2015… my favorite of all time…Blue transcends time and space….my extraordinary friend… I can never let go….ever…

  19. Duke was 14 when he passed, an Irish settler and lab mix. It was over 10 years ago but I remember it pretty vividly. His last couple of years were full of health problems. His last few months if I can recall he seemed lethargic most of the times but he was still up for a good rub and he’d surprise you with bursts of energy. The last day was the most vivid, he just did not want to be bothered and was a bit snappy. Anytime I tried to come close he just would limp away, he curled up in a corner in our yard and passed away not even hours after he looked in my eyes and walked away. It still stings a bit, I haven’t had a dog since. I’m very grateful to God for putting dogs on earth, they’re great animals and friends.

  20. My dog died recently after being diagnosed with heart disease several weeks earlier. In her final days she began to refuse food at most times and only occasionally showed interest in some chicken or hot dog bites. She urinated unexpectedly and vomited a few times in her final days also. She would sometimes stop during a walk stand still, resisting my calls for her to continue. The most shocking thing she did though was look up at me, assume the howl posture and begin a very loud howl that started to fade as if it were getting farther away and when it went silent she collapsed and was dead. This was weeks ago and I’m still in shock and awe from it. Has anyone else had anything like this happen to them or seen anything like it?

  21. This article has given me some sense of peace as 2 days ago we said goodbye to our beloved Irish terrier, Dooley, who was taken too soon at the age of 9 due to cancer.
    Unlike our last dog, we knew it was coming and had time to spoil, love him, and cherish every moment before his final day arrived. I felt so guilty that in the final hours before the vet arrived I had busied myself with work and my husband looked after Dooley. I went in a few times to see him and give him kisses and love. I covered him up in his favorite fleece blanket but I am beating myself up for not being with him all night, all morning. Not loving on him, rubbing his ears, singing to him, letting our bodies connect to comfort him in his final hours. I have tremendous guilt for not doing that but my husband consoles me saying he felt that Dooley didn’t want us around, that he seemed to be in pain or uncomfortable with us interacting with him. This article allows me to have a bit of peace as maybe he did not want me to watch him suffer. I did give him his last kisses and pets as the vet let him go peacefully. I miss our beloved little boy. Rest in Peace Dooley, until we meet again.

  22. My dog knew she was dying, the night before she became very loving more than usual, she didn’t want me to go to bed she had cancer but to old fot treatment so i stayed with her all night and she never moved, but when my other dog came down the next morning she got up and went over to my other fog and touched her with her nose, i couldn’t believe it so i took a picture, then she turnef round and just flopped on thr floor.when we goy to the vets dhe told me that she was only houts away from dying, i made the decision to put her to sleep as i didn’t want her to suffer

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