top of page
Search
  • Writer's pictureCameron Jones

Storms and Fireworks: A Vet's Secrets to Calming Your Nervous Pet


Don't Let Fireworks Terrify Your Dog: Take Action Today.


By Happy's Vet


Disclosure: This post contains some affiliate links that help support Happy's Vet. Clicking on them comes at no additional cost to you, but provides us a small commission. Thank you for your support!


Hello, fellow pet parents! If you've been following Happy's Vet, you know all about my fur babies, Happy and Chewie. Just like many of your beloved pets, they also have their unique ways of dealing with loud noises. Happy tends to seek refuge in the bathroom, while Chewie takes it upon himself to defend the household by barking at the windows.


Noise phobias are a common problem in dogs, affecting up to 1/3 of the canine population. It's not just an issue during the holidays; living near a fireworks store in sunny Florida means we get unexpected pyrotechnic displays just as frequently as we get unpredictable thunderstorms! Let me share some advice on how you can help your furry friend.


Identification is Key


Remember to plan for the unexpected too! Before we discuss coping strategies, it's crucial to ensure your pet is easily identifiable.


A panicked dog may find a way to escape, and you want to ensure they can be returned to you as quickly as possible. Collars with identification should be engraved rather than on a tag that dangles because these can fall off. An excellent tool is a GPS collar; my clients tell me this one is quite reliable.

While collars are essential, they can slip off. That's why microchipping your pet is vital. Don’t forget to register the chip when you move. I was shocked to learn that 40% of pets with a microchip are not properly registered. Talk with your veterinarian today about having your pet microchipped!


Prevention


Early conditioning to loud noises can make a world of difference. Start by playing a recording of fireworks at a low volume while giving treats and praise. Once they seem comfortable, you can gradually increase the volume and even add in visual elements like flashing lights.


Treatment


If you find yourself in a situation with already phobic dogs, don't worry—there are options! One step is talking to your vet about anti-anxiety medication. Some medications can be used during a stressful event and others are used daily.



As tempting as it may be to share your own medication with your pet, don’t do it! Not only are the doses likely different, but some drugs may cause scary and even life-threatening reactions. I use herbal medications daily in my practice for a more natural solution as well. You would be amazed at all of the options!


Another solution is behavior modification, which can be done independently or with the help of an animal behaviorist or trainer. Chewie has benefited from some simple distraction techniques, like his favorite chew toy and being fed. When Happy is anxious, he is not interested in food so a thunder shirt is in order for him. Happy also got some much-needed confidence-boosting help from the trainers at Sit Happens. These guys are Top Notch!


Management


Sometimes, the best we can do is manage the environment to avoid triggers. Living close to a fireworks store has taught me the importance of this. When those unexpected fireworks start, we keep Happy and Chewie indoors. Chewie gets to play fetch for his dinner and Happy gets dressed in his Thunder Fashion and heads to his Zen Palace in the bathroom.


Pro Tip:

Exercise! A tired dog is less likely to be stressed out. When you know that there will be noises and potential triggers, then spend extra time at the dog park or in the backyard.


Products that may help!

Wraps and shirts, like Thundershirt! They are totally cute and effective!


Diffusers and Sprays such as Adaptil


Pheromone therapy is a proven therapy and essential in our home especially during summer storm season and for fireworks. Use a diffuser by their bed. Apply the spray directly on the thunder shirt or anxiety wrap.



Natural chews and supplements


There are a plethora on the market. With nutraceuticals, not all products are created equal even when they make the same claim or have similar ingredients so choose carefully. Ask your vet for their favorite brands. I am glad to have a brand the I trust. This one was created by two veterinarians and I know that it works well





Rescue Remedy - Flower essences for stressful situations like vet visits, fireworks and thunderstorms. Made with Bach flowers are safe and many people swear that they are very effective. I support my clients using this product because I know that it is safe and may help. It certainly will not hurt your pet.



Calmer Canine, an innovative drug-free solution that uses targeted pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy to treat anxiety. This is something that I am BEYOND excited about. I am thrilled to have another tool to share with my clients for their anxious babies. This video addresses separation anxiety but this treatment will work in all types of anxiety.


For more information on this product go to this link to learn more.




Let Them Have Their Space!



Happy loves his safe space in the bathroom! If your dog also seeks a dark, quiet place, don't discourage it - enhance it! Leaving an open pet crate in the back of a closet or a bathroom is perfect. Plug in a pheromone diffuser and add a touch of lavender! Create your own spray with 2 drops of lavender essential oil and 2oz water. Apply 1-2 pumps to the bedding. This is very dilute for those sensitive noses!



Turn on music or the bathroom fan for white noise, and remember to crack the door because I do not recommend anyone confine a panicking dog as it can lead to destructive behavior.


Remember, every pet is unique, so what works for Happy and Chewie might not work for your fur baby. When in doubt, consult your vet. After all, we're all in this together, aiming for the same goal—the Happy-ist and Healthiest Pets!


Wishing you and your pets all the best,


Happy's Vet


134 views0 comments

Comments


bottom of page