A Dog’s Perspective on Fireworks
Fireworks—classic component of the July 4th holiday weekend. Large crowds gather to watch the night sky turn technicolor. Often spectacular. Always noisy.
Almost always anxiety-producing for dogs.
If Wink could climb inside my skin to hide, he would. Graidy, who never used to be that bothered by fireworks, now turns into a quivering mess, courtesy of chronic Lyme disease. (Lyme can affect neurological functioning in all kinds of weird ways, this being one of them.)
As soon as the fireworks start, both dogs start showing signs of acute stress — panting, shivering, pacing, whining, drooling, dilated pupils, and the desire to be physically touching me.
Remedies for Dog Anxiety from Fireworks
I’ve found that giving both dogs Melatonin throughout the day helps. Some vets recommend a dose of 3mg for a 35-100 lb dog. Smaller dogs get 1.5 mg, and larger dogs may get 6mg. The dose is may be given prophylactically a half hour before the fireworks start. This dose may be repeated up to 3 times daily. (This may be used as a dose for animals with more generalized stress related disorders as well.)
I also combine that with several drops of Rescue Remedy, and a D.A.P (Dog Appeasing Pheromone) plug-in diffuser. This combination helps my dogs tremendously.
D.A.P. mimics the properties of the natural appeasing pheromones of the lactating female, which gives dogs a sense of well-being and reassurance. Pheromones are picked up and detected by an animal’s sense of smell. By replicating this signal of comfort, D.A.P. helps alleviate fear and stress-related signs associated with thunderstorms and loud noises, such as fireworks.
Melatonin and Rescue Remedy can be purchased at your local health food store. Petsmart carries D.A.P. or click the link above to order online.
Or, if I’m looking for a really quick fix, I may just give a Benadryl tablet, which acts as a mild tranquilizer. It works quite well by helping to make my dogs drowsy, which helps alleviate some of the separation anxiety symptoms that fireworks seem to induce.
The dosage for Benadryl is as follows: Dosage every 8 hours
Dogs under 30 lbs and Cats : 10 mg
Dogs 30-50 lbs: 25 mg
Dogs over 50 lbs: 50 mg
I’ve also had people ask me about Thundershirts. They work great for some dogs and don’t seem to do much for others (the website claims that 80% of dogs show improvement. Your mileage may vary. I like using my own makeshift thundershirt. I’ll wrap Graidy in a large ace bandage around his chest wall. That way, I can control how snug I make it and how much of him I cover. It definitely has a positive effect.
If you want to give the Thundershirt a try, you need to make sure you put it on at least an hour before the anticipated high-stress event.