Albuquerque Journal Article – Options for pets who freak out for the 4th

Dog scared of fireworks

Restrictions on fireworks won’t stop the earsplitting blasts that turn otherwise stable pets into trembling, panting emotional disasters. Some will get so overwhelmed that they‘ll drool, cry or howl, urine soil, vomit, or pass diarrhea. Most get clingy but a few may escape the yard and risk getting hit on the road.

A freaked-out dog or cat needs reassurance, but shelter from the bombardment is even better. Allow an anxious pet to find relief anywhere she feels better. A bathroom, dark closet, or an open pet crate, located away from windows and exterior walls, should be available. To protect her from unpredictable flashes close the blinds and turn off the TV.

You can cancel out some of the racket with a white noise machine or a loud fan. “Through a Dog’s Ear” is music that promotes canine-specific calming brain waves.  Mutt Muffs, well tolerated by most dogs, also help dampen loud noises. Some feel better wearing a Thundershirt. You can promote a calm emotional state by plugging in an Adaptil pheromone diffuser.

Foraging for their survival is an innate behavior for all dogs. With his morning meal withheld a food-motivated dog can focus on extracting his sustenance from a food-dispensing toy or puzzle. With survival as his primary focus he may be less inclined to wig-out over your neighbors’ pyrotechnic proclivities.

There are oral antianxiety medications that are best used preemptively. Alprazolam and trazodone can be helpful for dogs; lorazepam is better for cats. A new prescription treatment, called Sileo, is placed between a dog’s lower lip and gum. With no sedation or side effects Sileo is best administered prior to the artillery assault but it can also be given after the explosions are underway. This “oral-transmucosal” gel can be repeated as-needed every 2 hours. Sileo is safe when given along with other medications.

Avoid the tranquilizer acepromazine. This old fashioned drug sedates pets but does little to reduce anxiety. Unable to physically act out their fear, groggy cats or dogs on “ace” are trapped in a chemical straightjacket, leading to intense panic. Get ready now. Freaked-out pets who are left to fend for themselves worsen with each terrifying event.


Each week Dr. Jeff Nichol makes a short video or podcast to help bring out the best in pets. Sign up at no charge at Dr. Nichol treats behavior disorders at the Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Centers in Albuquerque and Santa Fe (505-792-5131). You can post pet behavioral or physical questions at or by US Post to 4000 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Albuq, NM 87109.