Many dogs are terrified by fireworks. As the New Year is approaching, we’re expecting celebration with fireworks. Here is some information and tips to help you manage your dog’s anxiety that fireworks can create:
- Recognise the signs your dog is anxious: pacing, panting, trembling, hiding, freezing, drooling, lip licking, yawning, full body shaking, excessively vocalizing, wanting to escape and withdrawing from social settings with the family are key ones to look out for
- Be prepared. Know the approximate time of the fireworks (the main fireworks are at 9 pm and midnight, but there may be others at different times and dates). Help your dog to avoid being exposed to the stimulation. Is it possible to stay with a friend who is away from the fireworks? If it’s not possible, close the doors and windows, even put your dog in a quiet room to minimize the bright lights, sounds, smells and vibrations associated with fireworks.
- You can teach your dog to relax on command beforehand. Teaching your dog to settle in bed with positive reinforcement (food, treats and praise) can be very helpful.
- Make your home a calm environment. You can play some calming music and use ADAPTIL (can be applied to a bandanna, collar or room diffuser) , a dog-appeasing pheromone for calming.
- Gentle touching and massage can help your dog to relax before the fireworks. Some dogs like time in a small supportive space such as a cardboard box or wardrobe
- There are some dietary supplements, such as Zylkene which can help in reducing anxiety. For more information please speak with your local Greencross Vet
- A Thundershirt may be an option if your dog feels comfortable wearing it.
- Offer distraction. You can play with your dog using a food puzzle using high value treats and their favourite games during the fireworks.
If your dog is showing signs of anxiety toward fireworks or loud noises, please speak with to your local Greencross Vet and discuss the treatment options available. Anxiety, if left unmanaged will develop into generalized anxiety or even phobia. Your vet can help determine if medical treatment, either short or long term, is suitable for your dog, as well as develop a behavior modification programme to help overcome fear and anxiety.
Dr Cathy Lau BScN (Hons) BSc BVMS
Crowell-Davis SL, et al. 2003. Use of clomipramine, alprazolam, and behavior modification for treatment of storm phobia in dogs. J Am Vet Med Assoc.
Lansberg, G, Hunthausen, W. & Ackerman, L. 2013. Behavior Problems of the Dogs and Cats 3rd ed. Edinburgh: Elsevier Saunders.