Did you know that 2 out of 3 dogs show signs of fear and anxiety associated with noise? Of these dogs, 81% react out of fear to the sound of fireworks. Independence Day is the most common holiday for pets to run away from home and get lost.
There are many tips and tricks, and even medication that can make this time of year much easier for our wonderful companions. If you feel that your pet may need some assistance before the holiday arrives, we would love to set up a virtual consultation with you to see what would be best! You can download our TeleVet app and start today by visiting our main page at www.IdahoVetHospital.com
4th of July Fireworks/ Noise Phobia
Fear of Fireworks
Summer is full of celebrations involving fireworks. Canada has Canada Day on July 1, the USA has Independence Day on July 4, and France has Bastille Day on July 14. Dogs and cats react to fireworks as individuals. Some aren’t upset by the explosions, and others get hurt by panicking and jumping through closed windows or bolting through doors to get away from the terrifying noise and lights.
Your pets will do better if they’re not left home alone during fireworks events. That’s not always feasible, so think ahead before leaving them alone.
Signs of anxiety can include pacing, trembling, panting, drooling, attention-seeking (vocalizing, pawing, nuzzling, and climbing on people), hiding, and bolting. Escape attempts tend to involve hiding behind furniture, and staying in a basement or bathroom. Because the source of the noise is confusing, inside dogs may want to escape to the outside, and outside dogs may be frantic to get inside.
Nervous pets tend to drink more water, so keep more available than usual. (And remember, these summer events usually mean hotter weather, and the likelihood of power problems, so extra water is already a good idea.) Bring outside pets inside, so they can’t bolt. Keep your cats securely inside, and if your dog needs a potty break during the fireworks, take him outside on a leash, even in a fenced yard. Make sure all your pets are wearing an ID tag or a collar that contains your phone number. Tags and collars can be lost, so a microchip is even more useful in helping you find your lost pet.
What can you do to keep your frightened pet safe and calm?
For many frightened pets, just staying in a crate (as long as they are used to one) or in a “safe” room with a closed-door is all that’s needed.
Synthetic pheromone Adaptil (formerly called D.A.P.) for dogs is available on our online store and at pet stores. These sprays or collars imitate the properties of the natural pheromones of the lactating female that gives kittens or puppies a sense of well-being.
An herbal relaxant called Composure comes in chews or liquid for dogs; the feline version is in chews.
Some pets respond to pressure wraps, such as Thundershirts or Anxiety Wraps. The pressure on the body may have a calming effect. These are available at Thundershirt.com, Amazon, and many pet stores like Petco or Petsmart
Ear muffs to muffle sound are also available.
It’s easier to prevent a fearful reaction than it is to reverse one. If your pet is nervous around loud, unexpected noises, a short-term sedative like Acepromazine before the fireworks start may be just the ticket. Talk to your veterinarian ahead of time, so you can have something on hand to give your pet before the fireworks start. Some medications often used for fireworks or thunderstorm phobias in dogs are Xanax, Trazadone and Sileo.
Some severely anxious pets may benefit from drugs like clomipramine or fluoxetine that increase the level of serotonin. However, these drugs can take several weeks, if not more, to build up to an effective level, so this is not spur-of-the-moment fix.
Helping our pets with this condition is best done with multiple modes of treatment:
Dogs react differently to these medications, and doses frequently need adjustment on individual basis. Please try the medication several days before needed to see the effect of the medication and consult with us to adjust the dose if needed.
It is best to give this medication in the evening approx 5-6 PM to have maximum effect during dusk and into the night.
Providing a dark room with background noise like a radio, static (white noise) bathroom fan running, may help with dealing with the anxiety, or a safe place like a crate or kennel if they are used to being in one.
Thundershirts are available at thundershirt.com, petco, Amazon, and other pet retail outlets. They do seem to help.