It’s That Time of Year Again!
You may not have noticed (insert sarcastic smirk here), but fireworks are going off a great deal recently! There always has to be at least one trade off for the good weather, right?
Obviously, with their keen sense of hearing, pups are naturally alert with any loud sounds. Dog reactions to these loud sounds vary a great deal. My dogs tend to shrug it off. If it’s really loud, they might move a little closer to me, but typically they’ll just keep sleeping through it. (Conversely, if a fly touches a window on the other side of the house, they’ll hear that and go nuts barking at it to go away!). Many dogs will flee / hide from the noise. Over time, behaviorists and dog owners have become adept at dealing with this dynamic. Below is a recap of some common solutions.
- Help them flee the experience before it even begins. We generally can expect 7/4 to always have fireworks. If you live in a neighborhood that has lots of fireworks, it would be ideal to simply relocate your pup for the night. Have them spend time with us at Friends of Toto! We’re located away from key firework areas (a good question to ask when evaluating if a facility is right for you!).
- Similar to the first item, it helps to have a tired dog when the fireworks are coming. Consider giving them a day of play in advance or giving them some exercise. A tired dog that can sleep through the experience is definitely a blessing!
- Of course the problem with the first two solutions is that you would need to know in advance when the fireworks are coming. Lately, it seems to be just about every night. What can be done then? Try turning up the volume on the television or radio. Depending on where you’re located, the firework noise can potentially be blend in with the ordinary noise from the TV.
- As always, dogs are very good at intuiting behavior. If you hear the fireworks first and get concerned, more than likely, your dog will also suddenly become concerned. Try to react as though nothing is happening and that the sound is normal. Going back to the “fly touching a window on the other side of the house” experience, once the dogs have finished their initial barking reaction, their next step is to look at me as if to say “aren’t you going to do something about that?” I find that when I ignore it, they follow my lead.
- Consider retail solutions like compression shirts. Admittedly, these are not for everyone. You may not see a positive response to the fireworks the first few times your pup wears them. Still, compression has been shown to relieve some anxiety / stress so it could be an ideal way to deal with problems when they come up unexpectedly.
Medicinal / Internalized Solutions
When considering any of these option, it is always a good idea to first have a conversation with your veterinarian. Solutions presented here are based on popular approaches, but we recognize they may not always be right for everyone. The safest thing is to always have a doctor verify it’s a good solution for your specific dog.
- Melatonin: You can get this at most pharmacies right over the counter. You’ll want to be careful about how much to give your dog as doses will vary depending on their weight. Generally, dogs will react by sleeping through the experience. It does take some time to work, but it can be a relief.
- Benedryl: Similar to the first item, Benedryl is an over the counter solution to help your dog rest through the experience. Again, doses vary depending on how much your dog weighs.
- CBD Oil / Treats: I’m not sure that there’s a body of science to support the claims, but I do know that there are a great number of customers who have found that CBD really helps alleviate stress. Most pet stores (including us) sell it. As with the other options, the amount you give will correlate to how much your dog weighs.
- Prescription Level Medications: As with human medications, the degree of potency varies in the stress relieving medication category. There are medications out there that can help and a fair amount of our customers are on them. Again, talk with your veterinarian to learn more and, perhaps, get a prescription.
Summer is always a tough time with fireworks (and thunder for that matter). Talk with your vets to help strategize a solution that works best for your pup and for you!