Fireworks and Your Dog

The fourth of July is rapidly approaching and with it comes fireworks. Fireworks are a major cause of noise phobia in dogs. Why? Dog hearing is better than human hearing. Your dog probably hears more and louder noises than you do. Your dog’s nose is better too, and maybe the smell of the fireworks is unpleasant. Additionally, fireworks are an uncommon noise, and from your dog’s point of view, an unpredictable event. Your dog never has a chance to get used to the sudden, loud noises accompanied by flashes of light. Dogs with noise phobia pace, run, scratch at the door, shake, drool and can be very destructive. Verbal reprimand or physical cuddling will not help in this case because your dog cannot understand why she should not be afraid of the fireworks.

If your dog is noise phobic, here are some tips on managing the upcoming holiday weekend:

• On July 4th, plan extra exercise for your dog during the day so she is tired and will want to hit the sack early.

• Provide a safe and familiar environment for sleeping. The safest place is his crate. In the room where the crate is located, close the windows and drapes to keep out both noise and flashes of light. Provide some background noise, the TV, radio or air conditioner, to drown out the booming fireworks.

• Aromatherapy is also worth a try. Rub lavender oil on your dog’s earflaps or use one of the pheromone products designed to mimic the comfort signals a mother dog sends to her puppies, such as Comfort Zone.

• Internet testimonials suggest the Anxiety Wrap lessens anxiety in noise phobic dogs. The wrap is made of a lightweight fabric and uses acupressure and maintained pressure to decrease undesirable behaviors associated with stress and anxiety.

• If your dog won’t take a nap, distract him with other activities such as a game of indoor fetch or a feeding toy. These toys slowly dispense pieces of food as your dog plays with them.

• Finally, you can consider desensitization of your dog. This involves playing a commercially available CD with recorded fireworks noise while engaging your dog in a fun activity. The volume is gradually increased while your dog becomes used to the noise. If you need help with this endeavor, you should consider a consultation with a veterinary behavior specialist. This project requires time, and you have plenty of time to start now for next year.

Every year we hear about dogs frightened by fireworks, they escape from home and run away. Be sure your dog is microchipped and has up to date tags on his collar. Also make sure you have a recent photo of your dog in case you need to make a lost pet poster.

If these suggestions don’t seem to help, see your veterinarian to discuss using a tranquilizer on the 4th of July. Remember, your veterinarian will want to see your dog, get an accurate weight and determine the appropriate medication to prescribe.

For some additional tips from Animal Planet, visit: http://ht.ly/24Luc.

The Animal Medical Center
For 100 years, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit http://www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.

One Response to Fireworks and Your Dog

  1. […] For additional tips on managing fireworks phobia in dogs read a previous blog, “Fireworks and Your Dog.” […]

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