Fireworks? It’s more like fearworks for some pets. Don’t wait until your hyperventilating dog is frantically trying to cram herself under the bed to help her out. Similar to fear of thunder, hot air balloons, and construction noise, there are ways to relieve the panic for these wigged out dogs but you must start early.
- Antianxiety medications like clomipramine or fluoxetine can make a big difference but they are best started before the first bang to prevent the misery.
- Your veterinarian can add quick-acting alprazolam for as-needed use when the noise is at its worst.
- A DAP pheromone diffuser (from veterinarians and pet supply retailers) can also help reduce your dog’s anxiety.
- The tranquilizer acepromazine should be avoided; it can make your dog a zombie while it does nothing to reduce his fear. Phobic dogs on “ace” actually worsen.
A scared dog also needs his owner’s time and patience.
- You can desensitize your dog to the noises that make him crazy by playing a “Sounds Scary” CD (www.SoundsScary.com or 888-241-9545) at low volume as you practice basic obedience, tricks, grooming, or high stakes blackjack to occupy his brain.
- Food toys are another excellent diversion.
- Gradually increase the volume of the recorded fireworks as your dog adapts.
- Having fun at the same time could even teach him to enjoy explosions.
- Take it slow and repeat each baby step hundreds of times.
Some dogs need more help.
- Studies have shown that the electric charge in the air that precedes lightening storms can be diminished by a foil lined “Storm Defender cape”.
- Some storm phobic dogs feel better just wearing a snug fitting T shirt.
Security is important for a scared dog.
- Allow her to curl up in the bathtub if it helps her feel better.
- Avoid reprimands and punishment.
- Don’t comfort your dog.
- Telling a panicked dog “it’s OK” in soothing tones will actually validate her anxiety.
- Set the example by exuding confidence.