Fireworks are beautiful, but they are also loud and scare many pets. In fact, the beginning of July is one of the busiest times of years at shelters because so many dogs get so scared that they escape from their home. Unlike thunderstorms, there are no warning signs for dogs that fireworks are going to happen, which makes it difficult for us as owners to know if our dogs are going to be scared. If at all possible, stay at home with your pets during fireworks and make sure that they have ID tags with proper fitting collars.
If you know that your pet has a fear of fireworks, there are a few things that you can do at home. First, you can exercise your dog earlier in the day so that they will be more relaxed during the evening. Before the fireworks start, put your pet indoors in a safe area such as a crate or closed door. Keep the lights on and the curtains closed so that no flashes of light will be seen inside. Also provide loud white noise to drown out the noise of the explosions. Give your furry friend a special treat, kong, or toy. During the fireworks, remain calm. If your dog needs to go outside during fireworks, make sure they are leashed and (if possible) in a secure fenced in area.
To help further decrease your dog’s anxiety, there are supplements, pheromones, and clothing available. Supplements such as Zyklene, Composure and Soluquin can help calm animals with minor anxiety by providing natural proteins that can help dogs calm down. Melatonin, a hormone, can also help with occasional anxieties. Adaptil is a pheromone that mother dogs release to help calm their puppies. It can be administered in a spray, collar, diffuser or tablet form. There are also Thundershirts and Anxiety wraps that help some dogs who are comforted by having constant light pressure around them. In addition, there are also ear muffs and calming caps on the market that can dull the sound and light for their doggy wearers.
If your dog’s anxiety is severe, prescription medications from your veterinarian may be needed. Please contact your veterinarian if you would like to discuss placing your pet on sedatives or anti-anxiety medications. Trainers and veterinarian behaviorists can also be helpful if you would like to modify your pet’s behavior so that they are no longer scared of fireworks.
From all of us at the Bedford Veterinary Medical Center, Happy Fourth of July! We hope despite all the noise and light it proves to be a peaceful one for your furry companions.