Veterinarian Kurt Mychajlonka D.V.M. of Craig Road Animal Hospital in North West Las Vegas explains why dogs fear fireworks and a variety of ways to get them safely through the Fourth of July holiday.
By: Kurt Mychajlonka D.V.M.
The Fourth of July is an undeniably stressful holiday for dogs, as the sight and sound of fireworks erupting throughout the day and well into the night can be terrifying for your pet. Fear of loud noises is a natural response for dogs. The sound prompts their nervous systems and triggers a flight response from fear and panic called noise aversion. Frightened dogs will jump fences, break through windows, dart into traffic, and often end up lost miles away from home in attempts to outrun the noise.
More dogs run away on the Fourth of July than any other day of the year. Veterinary shelters and clinics across the country are filled with lost and terrified dogs during the Fourth so it is important to take extra care to keep them calm and safe. Be sure that your pet is wearing a collar and is microchipped as a precaution.
Pay attention to your pet’s behavior. Trembling, panting, housetraining accidents, whining and hiding, are all symptoms that your pet is fearful of the fireworks outside. For dogs, the experience of fireworks isn’t the same as experiencing thunder. Fireworks explode closer to the ground, they also come with bright flashes and burning smells. Dogs heavily rely upon their senses to understand the world around them and the sights, sounds, and smells of the fireworks display may prove to be overwhelming.
Preparing for the holiday well in advance is beneficial. Play the recorded sound of fireworks at a gradually increasing volume before a walk or meal. This will help your pet get used to hearing the sound so that when the holiday comes, the sound won’t be such an unfamiliar frightening surprise.
Your dog will look to you, his pack leader, for indicators on how to handle stressful situations. Talk to your dog in a calm and joyful voice for reassurance of their safety. Keep him content with his favorite treats and toys around. Show affection, a good massage will help to keep him calm during the noise outside.
There are tools that you can utilize to help your dog stay calm during this time including thunder shirts, ear muffs, and calming supplements. Turn up the radio or TV to help drown out the sounds outside. Close your blinds or curtains to remove the visual stimulation.
Noise aversion is a danger to your pet’s safety, it’s important to begin a behavior modification regimen well in advance of a noise prone holiday or event. Home kenneling is a clever idea especially if you don’t plan to be there while the display is going on. This will ensure the safety of your pet and avoid household items being damaged.
When all else fails, consider medication options. It’s important to know how different medications work, so talk to your veterinarian before giving your pet medication. Calming supplements used to reduce stress and anxiety come in different forms.
All natural remedies available include products with the chemical L-Theanine. L-Theanine is an isolated chemical found in tea leaves that help to reduce stress and provide a non-drowsy calming feeling. Herbal extracts, such as chamomile reduce anxiety, incite a calming feeling and induce sleep.
Pheromone Calming supplements work by mimicking your pets natural calming pheromone to provide a feeling of calm and safety in their environment while also reducing anxiety. When a female dog has puppies, her body emits a natural calming pheromone that makes her puppies peaceful and gives them a feeling of security. Pheromones can be used with other medications and can be used on dogs of all ages.
Sedation is another option that pet owners can utilize to help ease the stress dogs endure throughout the holiday festivities. Craig Road Animal Hospital has a variety of options available. We encourage you to visit our practice and speak with one of our licensed veterinarians to discuss treatment options tailored to your pet’s specific needs. We hope you and your pet have a happy and safe Independence Day.*photo source Unsplash.com