Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Protect your pets from harmful 4th of July noises

See Shaggy Shane's story below
It's that time of year again - the 4th of July is right around the corner. The American Pyrotechnics Association (APA) estimates that more than 14,000 fireworks displays light up U.S. skies each 4th of July. The APA also reports that fireworks are more popular than ever, and backyard fireworks more than doubled between 2000 (102 million pounds sold) and 2007 (238 million pounds).

It's also the time of year when we are treated to the wonderful sounds of many talented musicians entertaining in the courthouse plaza. These nightly serenades epitomize our sense of community. Families, couples and neighbors gather together at the end of a long hot summer day to relax and enjoy each other's company.

It may seem intuitive to bring the family dog to these fun events. However, the Yavapai Humane Society (YHS) wants you to know that some events can be harmful to the family dog. Loud noises easily tolerated by humans can be extremely painful to dogs.

Dogs hear a wider range of frequencies than humans. The low end of the range is similar, but dogs hear noises up to 45 kHz, while humans can only hear sounds up to about 23 kHz. This means your dog is hearing and responding to sounds that you can't hear at all.

Dogs are known to be sensitive to loud sounds. Although there is no scientific data determining exactly which audio frequencies cause pain in canines, veterinarians and dog behaviorists agree that high frequencies can be painful to dogs.

Dogs actually perceive sound by feeling as well as hearing. The frequencies dogs perceive and hear are almost twice as many as humans and they can pick up and distinguish sounds at roughly four times the range of humans. For example, a sound you hear at 20 meters your dog can detect, pinpoint and interpret at 80 meters.

That is because your dog has specially designed inner ears that operate almost like radar. Your dog has eighteen or more muscles that can tilt, rotate, raise or lower each of his ears. With these specially designed ears your dog not only hears sounds, he can also perceive the height and depth of the sounds he hears. Because dogs have the ability to hear ultra-high frequencies that you can't, they will react to the vibrations of airplanes, sirens and even earthquakes long before you are aware of them.

A dog's hearing is so sensitive that continued sharp or percussive noises can cause real suffering. Many people attribute a dog's pathological fear of thunderstorms, explosives and loud music to a bad experience as a puppy, when the real reason for his cringing could be physical pain.

Very loud sounds can hurt your dog's ears and if a sound seems too loud to you, it is more than doubly so to your dog. So, be kind, refrain from bringing your best friend to painful events.

If you know your pet is distressed by loud noises, consult your veterinarian before July 4th for ways to alleviate his anxiety during the fireworks and upcoming thunderstorm season. Never leave pets outside unattended during these times. In their fear, pets who wouldn't normally leave the yard may escape risking injury or death. According to national statistics, lost pet calls increased 69 percent during 4th of July festivities in 2011.

Make sure pets are microchipped so YHS can quickly return them to you. You can microchip your pet for $20 at YHS, 1605 Sundog Ranch Road, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday or at the YHS Spay/Neuter Clinic, 2989 Centerpointe East, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on any Friday.

The Dog is the picture above is Shaggy Shane.  When rescued by YHS he was one big knotted mat. The groomers gave Shaggy an A++ for being so well-mannered and enjoyable to work with. Shaggy Shane, a 3-year-old Dandie Dinmont terrier mix, loves people, walks great on the leash and meets other dogs with considerate interest. He responds to silly childlike antics, engaging with his handler before happily sitting down and offering his paw for a shake. He should be a great pet for younger children. Shaggy will be available for adoption by auction on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. at YHS 1625 Sundog Ranch Road in Prescott.

Ed Boks is the executive director of the Yavapai Humane Society. He can be reached at or by calling 445-2666, ext. 21.