Media – Freaked-Out by Fireworks


Many Great Ways of Helping Scared Cats & Dogs

Startled by earsplitting blasts, many otherwise stable pets will endure almost continual panic this weekend. Dogs may hide, tremble, drool, cry or howl, and even urine soil, vomit or pass diarrhea. Many get clingy but some escape the home and risk serious injuries.

A freaked-out dog or cat needs reassurance, but shelter from the bombardment is much better. Allow an anxious pet to find relief anywhere she feels better. A bathroom, dark closet, or an open, covered pet crate, located away from windows and exterior walls, should be available. Unpredictable flashes trigger even more fear. 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, help dampen loud noises. Promote a calm emotional state with a plug-in Adaptil pheromone diffuser.

A compelling, canine-specific behavioral opportunity will make a difference. With the morning meal delayed a food-motivated dog can focus on extracting his sustenance from food-dispensing toys or puzzles. Working his brain, mouth, and paws will divert his or her attention away from your neighbors’ pyrotechnic proclivities.

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

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

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Dr. Jeff Nichol is a residency-trained veterinary behaviorist. He provides consultations in-person and in groups by Zoom (505-792-5131). Each week he shares a blog and a Facebook Live video to help bring out the best in pets and their people. Sign up at no charge at Post pet behavioral or physical questions on or by US Post to 4000 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Albuq, NM 87109.