Many dogs experience anxiety and stress due to fireworks and storms; therefore, summer holidays can be less than ideal for many of our canine companions. The first step to knowing if your pet has a firework phobia is to be on the lookout for signs of stress. Stress signals in dogs include, but are not limited to, panting, pacing, hiding, lip licking, yawning, and/or refusing food. Check out this visual of dog stress signals by Dr. Sophia Yin from Cattledog Publishing: https://drsophiayin.com/blog/entry/dog-bite-prevention-week-poster-on-the-body-language-of-fear-and-aggression/
If your pet shows signs of stress with storms of fireworks, please try a few of the tricks listed below to minimize their anxiety:
- Find a spot in the house where your dog feels safe (i.e. his or her crate, the basement, a closet, bathroom, etc.) and encourage your pet to rest there during storms/fireworks
- Turn on fans or other white noises to muffle sounds
- Close all windows and shut blinds/curtains to muffle sounds
- Distract your pet with a Kong filled with his or her favorite treat.
- Put on a Thundershirt — Make sure you have desensitized your pup to the Thundershirt by having him or her wear it numerous times for “fun” events (such as Kong time, feeding time, fetch, etc.) before using it for storms
- Ask your veterinarian about nutraceuticals for anxiety or stress – Remember to administer these products one hour before the storms/fireworks begin for maximum effects
- Lastly, don’t hesitate to ask your veterinarian for prescription medications to minimize anxiety and stress for your pets – There are many safe and effective medications on the market that facilitate a healthy mental state during storms. Your veterinarian can choose the right medication for your pet based on their breed, size, and medical history. Because all patients respond differently to medications, I always recommend a “trial” round of medication on a calm, peaceful day to assess the effect in your pet before using the medication during fireworks/storms. And, always remember to administer these medications one hour before the storms/fireworks begin for maximum effects.