Baxter, like most dogs, finds this time of year a period of intense emotional stress brought about by the flashes and loud noises associated with fireworks.
So, we would like to share with you some of the excellent advice we received on a recent visit to the vet.
Minimizing the effect of fireworks
Up until recently, the only way of medically trying to help dogs was by the use of sedatives. However, our vet tells us that sedatives provide little if any benefit and may actually compound what is an already stressful situation.
In order to minimize the effect of fireworks on your pet, try the following advice.
- Avoid exercising your dog after dark, as this is the peak activity for fireworks.
- Ensure all curtains in the area where your pet stays are pulled shut in order to block out the flashes from fireworks.
- Turn on the radio in the room playing music at an appropriate volume so as to reduce the impact of the explosions from fireworks.
- Try no to offer sympathy to your pet. This is very hard to do, but offer sympathy may be interpreted by your dog as legitimizing their phobia.
- Do not scold or punish your dog if it shows signs of fear or anxiety.
- Provide a ‘sanctuary’ for your pet – a designated area where you can follow steps 2 & 3, preferably an area where your pet prefers to hide when stressed. Feed the pet in this area. The pet will recognize this area as a place of reassurance and comfort where they are less stressed by the fireworks.
Our vet also suggests using a pheromone diffuser in the ‘sanctuary’ area. A pheromone diffuser is a plug-in diffuser similar to the room deodorants commonly used in the home. It releases into the atmosphere of the room a tiny amount of the product similar to a natural chemical produced by the bitch while feeding her pups. This has been shown to reduce anxiety, to change the way pets perceive unfamiliar environmental stimuli and to enhance social interaction.
The diffuser should be plugged in at the same height at the pet and should not be positioned behind furniture. Ideally, it should be plugged in 2 weeks in advance of the event. It should be left plugged in 24 hours a day and never unplugged, even for part of the day.
If you have any concerns about your pet during firework season, please contact your vet.