The 4th of July is approaching and, while we humans consider this day a celebration, many of our canine companions consider it extremely distressful. To make matters worse, many owners will try to console their dogs by petting and cuddling, thereby reinforcing the dog’s fear. Some dogs may even panic and exhibit undesirable behavior such as scratching at the door, digging at the carpet, and hiding under furniture, soiling the house, running away from home or even injuring themselves. Below are some tips to help dogs with fireworks phobia:
1. For a dog with a mild phobia (pet is somewhat anxious) or if you want to prevent fireworks phobias – Have a “fireworks party”. Starting about a week before the 4th of July, feed you dog ¼ of its morning meal. Then play a recording of fireworks sounds at a very low level. Every time you hear a boom say to your dog in a very happy voice “it’s a fireworks party!!” and feed you dog a very tasty treat. Keep doing this for every boom then gradually increase the sound level each while repeating the same process until your dog is looking forward to the next boom. You may pair this exercise with a D.A.P. collar or Thunder shirt (both are available at this website http://www.petexpertise.com/)
2. For a dog with a moderate phobia (dog does not respond to the above plan) – Use the plan above, but medicate the dog for several hours on any days fireworks are expected. Talk to your vet regarding the use of drugs such as Aloprazolam or Lorazepam. Prozac is not a good choice because it must be present for 2 – 4 week in the dog’s system in order to work properly.
3. For a dog with a severe phobia (panicking) – combine the Aloprazolam or Lorazepam with a sedative like Acepromazine. You will have to speak to your vet regarding these drugs, as they are by prescription only. You will want to give a test dose on a day you will be home before the 4th of July to see how it affects your pet your vet may need to adjust the dose if your pet is too sedate or not sedate enough.
4. To help your pet during the 4th of July fireworks, keep your dog inside, close all doors and windows, turn on your air conditioning if you have it and turn on a radio or television to help drown out the noise.