That Time Again, Firework Season

 

Willow, Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Ng.

 

Written by Jennifer Ng, DVM and greyhound owner.
Here’s my usual fireworks PSA. A little difficult to write this time as it will be my first fireworks holiday without a dog with noise phobia in many years. In memory of Willow, running free at the Bridge, never to be scared by storms or fireworks again.

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With July 4th just around the corner, I hope everyone with a dog who is afraid of fireworks has a plan in place. There are a lot of options depending on how bad the anxiety is.
If this will be the first time your dog has experienced fireworks, or if your dog is just a little startled and worried but not overly anxious, you can start with some management and training techniques. Start by taking your dog out for a last potty trip before it gets dark so you won’t have go while people are setting off fireworks. Turn on the TV or radio so that there is some background noise.
How you respond and act during the fireworks can have a big affect on your dog’s reaction. Act calm and confident like it’s no big deal. If your dog is only mildly concerned, you can help prevent it from developing into a real problem by acting like it’s fun and exciting and immediately giving the dog a treat every time you hear any fireworks noise.
For dogs that are already mildly to moderately anxious with fireworks based on past experience, natural calming supplements can help. There are a number of products on the market, such as Composure Pro, Solliquin, Zylkene, melatonin, or Rescue Remedy. A lot of dogs also respond well to Thundershirts.
For more severe anxiety, talk to your vet about prescription medications like Sileo, trazodone, Valium, or Xanax. Just please avoid acepromazine, which only immobilizes the dog without providing any anxiety relief and can actually worsen noise phobias. Hope everyone enjoys the holiday and keep your dogs safe and happy!

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