A Time For Celebration
The Fourth of July is a time for celebrating the independence of the United States by spending time with friends and family, having a barbecue and maybe lighting off a few fireworks. It is meant to be an enjoyable day that we get to spend together basking in the freedoms of our great nation. However, for many people and Pets, the tradition of setting off fireworks on the Fourth of July is a cause of anxiety and panic.
Noise Phobia is an excessive, unreasonable fear response to specific loud noises. It is more common in dogs than cats. The most common noise phobias are to fireworks and thunder.
The loud and unexpected boom of a firework can wreck havoc on Pets, especially in dogs, whose ability to hear is far more sensitive than that of a human. Loud noises, like booming fireworks, can help trigger the Pets fight or flight response and could lead to them running away in search of safety. Approximately 30% of all Pets that go missing occur on July 5th*.
How To Care For Your Pet During The Festivities
MILD (somewhat anxious): As prevention or to treat a mild response, try a canine “Fireworks Party.” Start with the first faint sound fireworks. YOU respond with a happy, “It’s a fireworks party!” Then happily run to the fridge to see what treats (e.g. chicken or bread) are available for the dog. Then keep some with you, and every boom triggers a “party snack” until the dog is happily waiting for the next boom.
MODERATE (no response to the “party plan” above): In addition to the above, medicate the Pet for several hours on days when fireworks are expected. Drugs like Prozac are not helpful because they need to be given for 2-4 weeks before they begin to work. A good option is a “dog chill pill” called, Trazodone. (“Traz”). Try providing a “safe place” such as a portable kennel with blankets covering it.
SEVERE (a panicking dog): Combine Trazodone with a second calming medication, Clonidine. Give both medications at the same time.
Photo by Randy Robertson