Fireworks and your Dog

By Tristan Clark DVM

Summer is approaching and with it comes the 4th of July. Does your canine companion harbor a fear of fireworks, once the bangs and explosions of lights appear?

Many dogs become so afraid that they attempt to flee, with the craftiest escaping the house and yard. Because of this, the 4th of July is one of the busiest days for animal control and shelters and as always, if your dog escapes there’s a chance he or she may become lost or hurt. Keep in mind that that outdoor pets should be brought inside and taken out only on a leash. Make sure your pet is wearing identification or has been microchipped in case they escape. Many of these pets do better when their owners remain at home. However, if that is not possible there are several methods that you may look into prior to the holiday.

Many of the following suggestions involve things that you can first try at home, or purchase over the counter. For mild cases of fright, many animals do much better when confined to their crate or a small, safe room. Slightly more challenging cases may respond to other calming effects, such as a light pressure wrap (Thundershirts), reduction of sound or vision (ear mufflers or loud music with a heavy beat), or even pheromone sprays or herbal supplements that are cited to induce relaxation. Even better would be using behavior training to condition your pet to such loud noises.

For more severe cases, medications can be prescribed. A short lasting sedative can do wonders but usually need to be administered 30-60 minutes prior to the fireworks. For animals that show heavy stress to more frequent events, antidepressants (such as serotonin-reuptake inhibitors) can help. However these class of medications require weeks to months to take effect so they are not something to be given only on July 4th.

With so many options available, if you have an easily stressed pet, make plans ahead of time to find the best solution for your home. If you’d like to discuss treating anxiety in your pet further, please call us at Copper Hill Animal Clinic to talk to us!