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Firework Fears (and other noise aversions)

Independence Day is almost here!  While children and adults all over America are excited to celebrate our country’s freedom with fireworks, our pets may be less excited.   Noise phobias are particularly common in dogs and July 4th is a terrifying holiday for them!  There are some things we can do to help with Fido’s fears.   Here are some general tips to help keep your pet safe:

  • Create a safe zone. This is a space where your dog can go to feel safe.   Katie’s dog, Ruby, particularly loves the middle bathroom.   Dr. Katie turns the fan on to add white noise, and provides soft bedding so Ruby can be comfortable.  Some dogs may find comfort in their crate, but be careful locking them in as being trapped during a noisy event can increase anxiety.    Dr. Katie usually allows Ruby to go to her safe spot, but doesn’t lock her in.   For dogs that bolt through open doors, use caution during firework season.   A terrified dog may be more prone to run away and get injured during the noise.
  • Don’t coddle. One thing you want to avoid is rewarding fearful behavior.  Instead, work on training and reward for a good response.  For example, practice sit, stay, or tricks and reward for the desired response.   During this time it is important for owners to stay calm and avoid projecting anxiety.  If you are nervous, your dog will pick up on that emotion!
  • Take a long walk before night falls. Before the scary event (ie, fireworks) take a nice walk with your dog, or play fetch!   Activity can help your dog feel calmer by wearing him out and by releasing endorphins.

If your pet is very fearful, he or she may have a phobia.  Medications can help, but there is no 1 size fits all.  You can schedule an appointment and discuss options with one of our veterinarians.   We have a new option this year called Sileo.  It is the first and only FDA-approved treatment of canine noise aversions.  We would love to discuss if this medication or another is right for your dog.  Call us at 573-875-3647

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