Family 411 - Dogs & Fireworks
The Fourth of July and the summer season can bring a lot of noise anxieties for our pets.
Big booms from fireworks can cause dogs to panic, so our own Siouxland News “Family 411” reporter Lu Ann Stoia shows us a way to give the family pet some relief.
The sound of a toy might not be a problem, but fireworks sure scare little Stuie.
His brother Newman, though, not so much.
About 40% of dogs have some sort of noise anxiety.
“Fourth of July is one of the busiest times at our shelters, because dogs are panicking, they don’t feel safe,” said Meghan Herron, a veterinary behaviorist.
Summertime brings thunderstorms with lightening and that also terrifies some dogs.
“Then we take this longer piece on the other side and loop it up,” said Herron, demonstrating the use of a “thunder-shirt.” “Fairly snug so you get that firm balanced pressure which is soothing for them.”
Herron says putting a “thunder-shirt” on the dog is a good first step to calming the dog.
“It can be helpful for any stressful event and fireworks are a big stressor for a lot of our noise-sensitive patients,” said Herron.
Herron says it’s a good idea to make dogs who have noise anxiety a “bunker” in your home.
A little soothing classical music may be helpful, as well.
“Most dogs are going to seek a place that is dark, they’re going to seek a place that feels secure from the sights and sounds, so a place that is smaller and confined,” said Herron. “A place that doesn’t have windows.”
Herron suggests people avoid walks with pets when fireworks are likely to be set off.
“Some of these animals reach a full state of panic,” said Herron.
If possible, Herron says it’s a good idea during fireworks to have somebody stay with a dog that is afraid.
“They don’t understand where it’s coming from, they can’t predict it, they don’t know when it is going to end or when it is going to come again,” said Herron. “It can be hard on them.”
Herron says training, especially at an early age, can lessen the fear, but owners should take it seriously.
“I really encourage people whose dogs are hurting themselves, who are trying to escape and panicking, to get medical help from their veterinarian, because it can be a dangerous issue,” said Herron.
There are supplements on the market that some dog owners are using to calm their pets.
You should make sure they are F.D.A. approved and ask your vet if they would be safe and helpful for your dog.