Keep the Shake at the Lake This 4th of July
Anxiety caused by fireworks (and thunderstorms) is a very common problem among dog owners. Although it is difficult to completely cure most dogs of fireworks phobia, a lot can be done to lessen the issue and help relax your furry friends.
The first step is the most difficult one: training. The goal is to substitute the negative association your dog has created with fireworks with a positive one. What does your dog love? Treats? Attention? Tug-of-war? When the fireworks start, positively reinforce calm, relaxed behaviors by rewarding your dog with what it loves most.
Two additional tools you can use to fight fireworks phobia are exhaustion and distraction. If possible, the morning of the 4th, take your dog for a long walk or go to the dog park. Exercise will help your pet relax later in the day when the sky starts to light up. You can also try to distract your pet by giving them a new toy or treat when the festivities begin.
Lastly, if training, exhaustion and distraction are not enough, there are certain products, supplements and medications that can be helpful. Some dogs, like infants, feel comfort when wrapped tightly around their chest and upper body. You could try swaddling your dog in a snug-fitting jacket, shirt, or specialty wrap like the Thundershirt. You could also try certain supplements (e.g. Solliquin, Zylkene) and pheromones (e.g. Adaptil), which can encourage relaxation when given before and during the stressful event. Beyond that, there are medical options (i.e. sedatives and anti-anxiety medications) to help your pet get through the night.
Please contact us at Isthmus Veterinary if you have any questions for Dr. Siegel.
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I hope you and your pooch have a fun and fear-free 4th of July!