This blog comes as a partner article from my website. This blog continues what to do if your dog is afraid of fireworks. Please feel free to read it at Fourth of July: Keep Your Dogs Safe.
Trying to determine “how serious” and “how stressful” fireworks (thunderstorms, or any excess noises) are for your pet is the hard part. If your dog is severely affected by fireworks and the commotion of the 4th weekend, he may need medication. Shaking uncontrollably, drooling, vocalizing, shutting down, urinating and defecating in the house, and other unusual, extreme behaviors, may be associated with fear. If you can’t determine your dog’s level of stress yourself, take a video of your dog and/or have an animal behaviorist, trainer or vet see your dog’s response. If the symptoms are severe, there are medications that work very well for relief of temporary events. See your vet about those medications which would be our first choice and best option for dogs with those types of extreme reactions.
Ideas for Helping Your Dog Deal with Fireworks
Once you have determined that your dog’s reactions are probably not severe enough to consult your vet and get meds, then read on for some ideas for dogs with less severe reactions to fireworks, etc.
Our top options include items for your dog to wear that can help with anxiety from noise issues. The Thundershirt is a wrap for your dog similar to the “swaddle” effect for a baby. It works very well with some dogs and definitely worth a try: Thundershirt. There’s also a body wrap from the wonderful people at TTouch which could be a great assistance in helping your dog with fear: TTouch
There are many different calming methods for animals and they work well when used mindfully and with care. As with all living beings, not everything works with everybody. For instance, lavender is a calming agent for almost all people and dogs, but for a few it can have the opposite effect. I’ve seen dogs turn on the “speed machine” when lavender is used The same is true for prescription drugs. Of course, it’s always important to watch your dog when he is taking any prescription drugs or alternative remedies.
Lets talk about some specific calming ideas. For the sake of the newsletter we will concentrate on fireworks and fears of loud noises.
The first thing I like to recommend to clients when there is a “disconnect of any sort” with their dog is Comfort Zone DAP. DAP stands for Dog Appeasing Pheromone. It is an odorless (to humans) scent that mimics the nursing mother’s scent that she omits to comfort her puppies. It is not specific to noise stress. It is very successful with other situations of stress and many people have used it with great results. For more information http://www.petcomfortzone.com/comfortzone_dap.php
Aromatherapy is also used with animals and very successful in calming our pet’s woes. Flower Essences are also used in stress reduction and lavender leads the list in calming scents for canine, feline and human alike.
There are many excellent brands of animal specific flower essences that can help calm a stressed animal. Rescue Remedy is usually the first choice for stress and it is very good. There may be others that are noise specific that are different with each brand.
Some Concentrated Training or a Little Cuddle is Always Good
Last, but definitely not least, is behavior work for your stressed or scared dog. If your dog is not “over the top” freaked out, you can work with him and try to recondition the effect fireworks have on him, or storms in general if that is involved. If your dog is just a “little freaked” try to work with him to distract from the noise. Get his favorite food, toy or games and try to engage him in a round of fun, fun, fun to go with the noise. Put on some music or a show to help mask the “boomies”. Or, as we always say at kona’s touch, “a little cuddle on the couch, can be just what the little dog needs”. Happy 4th, however you spend it.
Updated: June 2018