Firework Phobias and Pets

June 25, 2011

People love the fun and festivities of the July 4th celebrations.  However, our four-legged friends may not have the same appreciation of this particularly noisy holiday.  Animal’s sense of hearing is more acute than ours, so the booming of a firework is more intense for them.

The fear of noises like fireworks can work our pets into a dangerous frenzy if we aren’t diligent about paying attention to their needs during this time.  A few Fourths ago, my sister’s dog came to visit us at the beach.  We were all having a great time.  Mazzy was safely outside with us in the fenced-in yard, or so we thought.  Shortly after the fireworks started, we realized that Mazzy was gone.  We spread out and searched the beach and the island, but to no avail.  It was such a relief when we got a call from a distant neighbor who had found a scared Mazzy on her porch. 

Mazzy was a young dog and she hadn’t yet experienced fireworks.  My sister had no idea that she would behave irrationally and run away from her family.  But irrational behavior is actually quite common with noise phobias.  Some pets will bite or show other signs of aggression during a phobic attack.  Others will chew, destroy furniture, shake, howl or lose control of their bladder.

You should never leave a pet alone outdoors during firework activity.  If you are outside with your pet, have him or her on a leash so that you can keep him close and he won’t escape like Mazzy did.

If your pet is anxious about loud noises, you should prepare a crate or an interior room without windows where he or she will be comfortable.  It is best if at least one family member can stay home with the pet.  Whether you are home or not, use the TV or radios to help muffle the sounds of the loud fireworks.  Close drapes or shades and leave lights on to help disguise the flashes.

Another great tip is to exercise your pet two hours before the festivities.  Go for a long beach walk, play ball or play with a laser pointer.  A tired pet will be more relaxed and might sleep through the excitement.

 If you plan ahead, you can pick up a safe sedative from your veterinarian.  You should give this tablet 1 hour before any fireworks begin.  Sometimes natural calming herbs like Rescue Remedy or Dog Appeasing Pheromones (DAP) are enough to calm a mildly frightened dog.  Whatever you do, don’t reinforce frightened behavior by saying “it’s OK” or similar words.  Instead, try to distract him or her with basic commands or games that he likes to play. You want to pretend nothing is wrong, otherwise you may confirm your pet’s fears and worsen the response over the years.

If you have a pet who is extremely phobic, training videos and CDs may help your pet learn to live with its fear.  It is too late for this year’s summer noises, but if you start working with a desensitization CD, such as can be found at www.soundtherapy4pets.com, now, you might find next year’s celebrations are better tolerated.

Right now is the time to be sure that all of your pets have a current ID tag and a microchip so that a lost or confused pet can be returned to you as soon as possible.  This certainly paid off with Mazzy.  Without her ID tag, we would have had a sleepless night!

 

People love the fun and festivities of the July 4th celebrations.  However, our four-legged friends may not have the same appreciation of this particularly noisy holiday.  Animal’s sense of hearing is more acute than ours, so the booming of a firework is more intense for them.

The fear of noises like fireworks can work our pets into a dangerous frenzy if we aren’t diligent about paying attention to their needs during this time.  A few Fourths ago, my sister’s dog came to visit us at the beach.  We were all having a great time.  Mazzy was safely outside with us in the fenced-in yard, or so we thought.  Shortly after the fireworks started, we realized that Mazzy was gone.  We spread out and searched the beach and the island, but to no avail.  It was such a relief when we got a call from a distant neighbor who had found a scared Mazzy on her porch. 

Mazzy was a young dog and she hadn’t yet experienced fireworks.  My sister had no idea that she would behave irrationally and run away from her family.  But irrational behavior is actually quite common with noise phobias.  Some pets will bite or show other signs of aggression during a phobic attack.  Others will chew, destroy furniture, shake, howl or lose control of their bladder.

You should never leave a pet alone outdoors during firework activity.  If you are outside with your pet, have him or her on a leash so that you can keep him close and he won’t escape like Mazzy did.

If your pet is anxious about loud noises, you should prepare a crate or an interior room without windows where he or she will be comfortable.  It is best if at least one family member can stay home with the pet.  Whether you are home or not, use the TV or radios to help muffle the sounds of the loud fireworks.  Close drapes or shades and leave lights on to help disguise the flashes.

Another great tip is to exercise your pet two hours before the festivities.  Go for a long beach walk, play ball or play with a laser pointer.  A tired pet will be more relaxed and might sleep through the excitement.

 If you plan ahead, you can pick up a safe sedative from your veterinarian.  You should give this tablet 1 hour before any fireworks begin.  Sometimes natural calming herbs like Rescue Remedy or Dog Appeasing Pheromones (DAP) are enough to calm a mildly frightened dog.  Whatever you do, don’t reinforce frightened behavior by saying “it’s OK” or similar words.  Instead, try to distract him or her with basic commands or games that he likes to play. You want to pretend nothing is wrong, otherwise you may confirm your pet’s fears and worsen the response over the years.

If you have a pet who is extremely phobic, training videos and CDs may help your pet learn to live with its fear.  It is too late for this year’s summer noises, but if you start working with a desensitization CD, such as can be found at www.soundtherapy4pets.com, now, you might find next year’s celebrations are better tolerated.

Right now is the time to be sure that all of your pets have a current ID tag and a microchip so that a lost or confused pet can be returned to you as soon as possible.  This certainly paid off with Mazzy.  Without her ID tag, we would have had a sleepless night!

 

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