Can Dogs Sense Fireworks?

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Introduction

In the United States, The Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve are two of the most pyrotechnic holidays (because of all of the firework shows). The splendor of watching colorful explosions in the sky amass huge crowds and the shows are even broadcasted on TV. It seems most people enjoy a good firework show, but someone really might not be enjoying themselves - your dog. 

Dogs have very sensitive ears that are very useful for hearing intruders, hunting, and even playing. However, when fireworks start going, their sense of hearing might seem more like a curse than a blessing. It can really hurt and even damage your pup’s hearing. 

So, while you might be enjoying the fireworks, it’s important to keep an eye on your pup and be sensitive to how he or she is acting.

Signs Your Dog Might be Stressed Out by Fireworks


If your dog’s ears are hurting because of the fireworks, you might notice a few things. They might start cowering, shaking, or panting, and they might even start howling or barking. Of course, dogs are all different, so these signs might vary. However, if your dog seems generally distressed or like they are in pain, it’s very important to get them as far away from the noise as possible.

Sometimes, when the noise becomes too overwhelming, dogs will run away. It seems like you hear more about dogs running away after loud events like The Fourth of July. So, keep an eye out for your dog pacing, whining, or seeming like they are trying to escape from you or your home. If you notice any of these signs or that your dog is generally erratic and distressed, you need to make sure they are contained in a safe place, and they need to feel more calm.

Body Language

Here are some signs you might notice if your dog's ears are hurting:
  • Barking
  • Shaking
  • Cowering
  • Panting
  • Howling

Other Signs

Here are some signs you might notice if your dog is trying to escape:
  • Pacing around your house
  • Whining continuously
  • Scratching at the door, trying to get outside

History of Fireworks and Dogs

Historically, humans have always been fascinated with fire. We’ve used it to keep warm, provide light, cook - even as a defense mechanism. So, why not as entertainment, too? 

History.com says that the first firecrackers probably originated in China perhaps as early as 200 B.C., while fireworks probably came around between 600 and 900 A.D. After that, the Chinese developed bombs and gunpowder as well. History.com also mentions that early European rulers absolutely loved fireworks and that obsession came to the United States as people migrated.

So, humans have had a very long love affair with fire and things that go boom. That love is still very much alive and well today. There isn’t much information about dogs’ history with fireworks. However, since dogs have been domesticated for quite a while, we can assume they’ve been along for the festivities for many years as well.

Science of Dogs Hearing Fireworks

Even though, it seems, dogs have been around fireworks for thousands of years, it probably doesn’t give them much comfort. As mentioned, they have very sensitive ears that can hear much farther than humans.

According to Service Dog Central, dogs can hear things 80 feet away, while humans can only hear things about 20 feet away. Dogs can also hear higher frequencies. Dogcare.com says dogs can hear between 67-45,000 Hz while humans only hear 64-23,000 Hz. So, you can see why a dog might become very distressed even though, to you, fireworks might be no big deal. 

Your pup might also be distressed by the bright lights and unfamiliar smells, too, since they have such sharp senses and don’t understand why you are setting off fireworks. They might think it’s something bad, even though in reality, you’re celebrating!

Helping your Dog During Events with Loud Noises

When it comes to training and safety for your pup, you can’t afford to slack. If you know that you’re going to be close to fireworks, it’s important to prepare yourself and your pup for the festivities. If your dog has a hard time around fireworks, don’t make them sit out and watch them. If you aren’t going to be watching the fireworks, but you know you’ll be able to hear them, make sure to keep a calm demeanor around your pup before, during, and after all of the noise. They’ll be able to sense your confidence and feelings, and this might help him to stay calm.

If you’ll be inside during the festivities, make sure that all of the windows, doors, and doggie doors are closed. Your pup might become so distressed that they try to escape. So, it’s important to keep all possible exits closed. If you’re having guests, let them know your dog is stressed by fireworks and emphasize that all of the exits need to remain closed to prevent him or her from trying to run away. 

If your dog is contained in the house, it also might help them to have a comfortable place to hang out, as far away from the noise as possible. It might not prevent them from freaking out a bit, but hopefully, it will make it easier for them to cope. If all else fails, dog behaviorist Cesar Millan also mentioned that if you find it necessary, you can utilize medication or a thundershirt for your dog. He does caution, though, that you need to introduce these tools when your dog is calm and not in the middle of all of the chaos.

So, can dogs sense fireworks? Absolutely! It’s up to you to make sure that your dog stays safe and as calm as possible even when you’re celebrating with fireworks.

Keeping Your Dog Safe Around a lot of Noise:

  • Stay calm yourself.
  • Make sure all of your windows, doors, and doggie doors are kept closed.
  • Ask houseguests to keep doors and windows closed.
  • Establish a safe comfy place, away from the noise, for your pup.
  • If all else fails, you can utilize medication or a thundershirt for your pup.