Fireworks are wonderful fun for us, but many dogs are terrified by the explosions even to the point of panic, injury, or running away. Common signs of firework fear include panting, pacing, drooling, hiding, and barking.
Here are some pointers to fight firework fears:
- Provide a safe place: It's best to stay home with your pet if you know he has fireworks phobia. If that's not possible, be sure he is safely confined inside and well-identified with a collar/tags and a microchip. Place your dog in the basement, a center room in the house, or any room with lots of insulation in the walls, and play gentle music or white noise to drown out some of the scary sounds. Too, nervous dogs often drink lots of water, so have plenty available.
- Provide a distraction: Use a fillable Kong-type toy to create a yummy challenge for your dog to play with during the fireworks. Fill the toy with dog food, treats, or fresh veggies and then add peanut butter (without xylitol), yogurt, or applesauce to fill the gaps. Place the toy in the freezer a few hours before the fireworks, then give it to him when the noises begin.
- Provide comfort and love: Receiving love and comfort from trusted humans can help during panic situations. Support your dog by speaking to him in a soothing voice and offering snuggles. Your dog may also benefit from playful interactions with you, such as fetching a ball or playing with a toy.
- Try anti-anxiety pet products:
- Synthetic pheromones such as Comfort Zone Adaptil Spray or DAP.
- Herbal relaxants such as Composure or Rescue Remedy.
- Pressure wraps such as Thundershirts or Anxiety Wraps.
- Calming Caps or Ear Muffs.
- Consider prescription medications: Talk to your veterinarian about the various types of short term sedatives or anti-anxiety medications that are available. It is much easier to prevent panic in your dog than stop it, so these medications are best given before the fireworks begin. Frequently used medications include trazodone, Valium, alprazolam, clomipramine, and fluoxetine. It is important to know that, although some medications may start working within hours, a few take several weeks to build up to an effective level. Too, the effect of a medication may vary so you should test it with your dog before the fireworks season starts.
- Consider a veterinary specialist: By planning ahead, another way of getting fireworks fear under control is to schedule an appointment with a veterinary behaviorist who can work with you and your pet on true behavior modification.
Bottom line: The most important thing you can do is begin to address your dog's firework phobia and not ignore it, as this type of fear and panic usually gets worse with time.
Give us a call if you need help this fireworks season at 281.351.7184. Or find us at kindvet.com
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