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It’s no secret that animals find fireworks frightening. It's estimated that more than 45 percent of dogs show signs of fear when they hear fireworks. Although pet owners do their best to protect their pets, it is nearly impossible to avoid Independence Day fireworks if you live in a city or near the field chosen for the display. This brings us to the crucial question: What can we do about it?
In the case that your dog is anxious about fireworks, try to keep them calm. “Stay close to your pet and provide reassurance by speaking to them in a calm, soothing voice while performing normal activities to avoid reinforcing anxious behavior. Calming music to mask the noises, closing window blinds to remove visual stimulation, and providing favorite toys/treats can be a useful distraction during stressful events.” says Dr. Jaime Pickett, our Chief Veterinary Officer.
Exercise is so important for our canine companions, and it’s a great distraction for your dog! Engage your pet in their favorite play, introducing interactive dog toys can keep them engaged - even better if the toys dispense their favorite treats.
Each pet has a place that gives them a sense of security. Let your pets stay in a place where they will feel safe during fireworks: crates, your bed, your bathtub, your closet, etc. “If your pet is extremely nervous with fireworks it may be best to stay home with your pet and turn up the TV or radio to drown out the noise from fireworks. Leaving a pet alone in a closed crate could create a situation where the dog is trying to flee and chews through the crate and could possibly damage its teeth or fracture its jaw", says Dr. Capron from our NewDay Georgetown clinic.
Before the big event, try to normalize the sounds, like playing audio recordings of fireworks. Increase the length of the firework sound every day until they are perfectly fine with them. Playing sounds of fireworks over a loudspeaker at a low volume, gradually increasing the volume, and rewarding positive behavior would go a long way.
If your dog is tired, he will be calmer, so make sure he gets as much exercise as possible before the festivities begin. You want your dog to be as sleepy as possible when the fireworks begin. That means a walk around the block won’t do, instead try running or playing fetch.
In case your pet is upset by holiday festivities, talk to your veterinarian about medication. There are many options that could help treat your dog’s firework phobia. Seek advice from your vet who will, if necessary, be able to refer you to a professional behaviorist. Never punish your pets when they're scared, as this will only make things worse in the long run. ”Always speak to your veterinarian when considering medications to help your pet cope with firework anxiety. Options range from over-the-counter supplements to prescription medications and your pet’s veterinarian can make the best recommendation based on specific medical history, allergies, and previous response to treatment.” says Dr. Hellner from our NewDay Mooresville clinic.
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