I don’t know about you, but around here, fireworks and thunderstorms are a source of anxiety and stress. For my dogs. And therefore, for me. It’s been decades since I’ve actually enjoyed either.
So I’ve created this Fireworks and Thunder Storm Survival Guide that also includes natural and over-the-counter remedies to help your dog get through the 4th of July and more. The good news is there’s a lot you can do to help your dog cope.
These are some of the proactive measures that have helped us.
Create a Safe Space:
Designate a safe area in your home where your dog can retreat during fireworks displays. (My closet works well for us). This space should be comfortable, quiet, and free from windows or doors that may amplify the noise. Include familiar items like their bed, toys, and blankets to provide a sense of security. (I also have their crate available in the closet and keep it completely covered by a blanket.)
Soundproofing and White Noise:
To minimize the impact of fireworks noise, think about what you can do to soundproof where you’ll be. Close the windows and draw the curtains to block out flashes of light. Play calming white noise or soft music at a moderate volume to drown out the sound of fireworks. The combination of the TV on and a fan on high works well for us.
Use Calming Aids:
Various products and techniques can help reduce your dog’s anxiety during fireworks displays. Calming aids such as anxiety wraps also known as thunder shirts, pheromone diffusers, and herbal supplements can have a soothing effect. (See below.) Make sure to consult your veterinarian for recommendations on suitable products and their proper usage.
Create positive associations with the sound of fireworks by associating them with enjoyable activities or rewards. For example, offer your dog a special treat or engage them in a fun game during fireworks noises. This can help shift their focus from fear to a positive experience.
Gradual desensitization to loud noises can help prepare your dog for fireworks. You can start by playing recorded fireworks sounds at a low volume and then gradually increase it over time. Combine these sounds with positive reinforcement, such as treats or playtime, to help your dog associate them with positive outcomes.
Seek Professional Help:
If your dog’s anxiety persists despite your best efforts, consult a professional dog trainer or behaviorist. They can assess your dog’s specific needs and develop a customized plan to address their anxiety. In severe cases, your veterinarian might recommend medication to alleviate your dog’s fear temporarily.
Exercise and Distraction:
Prior to fireworks displays, make sure your dog gets some physical exercise and mental stimulation. A tired dog is more likely to be relaxed and less reactive to external stimuli. Long walks or playing a stimulating game can help them release energy and divert their attention.
Stay Calm and Provide Reassurance:
During fireworks, dogs often pick up on their owners’ emotions. So, it’s essential for us to remain calm and composed. Gentle pets while speaking in soothing tones can comfort your dog. Your presence and positive energy can have a relaxing effect on them.
Each dog is unique, so it may take time to find the right combination of techniques that work best for your pet. Patience is key.
5 Natural Remedies That Can Help Your Dog Cope with Fireworks:
Lavender is known for its calming properties and can help reduce anxiety in dogs. You can put some lavender essential oil in s diffuser or put a drop on a bandana or collar that your dog can wear. Make sure the oil is diluted properly before using it on your dog.
Chamomile is another herb with soothing effects that can help dogs relax during fireworks. Brew a cup of chamomile tea, let it cool, and add a small amount to your dog’s water bowl. Alternatively, you can use chamomile supplements or treats specifically formulated for dogs.
CBD (cannabidiol) oil has gained popularity for its potential calming effects on dogs. It interacts with the endocannabinoid system and may help reduce anxiety. It’s important to consult with your veterinarian to ensure the proper dosage and quality of CBD oil for your dog.
Melatonin is a hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles and can help calm dogs during fireworks. It’s available in supplement form, and the appropriate dosage should be determined by your veterinarian. Administer it to your dog a few hours before the fireworks display to promote relaxation.
Rescue Remedy is a blend of flower essences that can help alleviate stress and anxiety in dogs. It’s available in liquid form and can be added to your dog’s water or applied directly to their gums. Consult with a veterinarian or holistic practitioner for guidance on proper usage.
Please remember to consult with your vet before using any natural remedies, especially if your dog has any underlying health conditions or is on medication.
3 Over-the-counter Human Medications that Can Help Dogs with Fireworks Anxiety
These over-the-counter medications may be considered safe for dogs, but make sure to research the appropriate dosage and suitability for your dog’s specific condition. It’s also a good idea to consult your vet before using them:
Benadryl is an antihistamine commonly used to treat allergies in humans. It can also have a mild sedative effect, which may help dogs with anxiety. However, the dosage should be determined by a veterinarian based on your dog’s weight and health condition.
Melatonin is a hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles. It is available over the counter and can sometimes be used to help dogs with anxiety or stress. The appropriate dosage should be determined by a veterinarian, as it can vary depending on the dog’s size and needs.
L-theanine is an amino acid that is known for its calming properties. It can be found as a dietary supplement in health food stores. Some dog owners and veterinarians have used L-theanine to help dogs with anxiety. However, it’s important to consult with a veterinarian to determine the appropriate dosage for your dog.
Please keep in mind that these medications may not be suitable for all dogs, and the proper dosage needs to be determined before using. Your vet can be a great help based on your dog’s individual needs and health condition.
3 Additional Products that Can Help Dogs with Fireworks Anxiety
Adaptil is a synthetic pheromone product available in diffusers, sprays, and collars. It’s designed to mimic the calming pheromones released by mother dogs to comfort their puppies. Adaptil can help alleviate anxiety and stress in dogs, including during fireworks displays.
Thundershirt is a specially designed “shirt” that applies gentle, constant pressure to your dog’s body. This pressure can have a calming effect on dogs and is often used to help alleviate anxiety related to fireworks, thunderstorms, or other stressful situations.
Calming Treats and Supplements:
There are various over-the-counter calming treats and supplements specifically formulated for dogs. These may contain ingredients such as chamomile, valerian root, or L-theanine, which are known for their potential calming effects. However, it’s important to consult with a veterinarian to ensure the safety and proper dosage for your dog.
If none of the above helps…
You may need something more heavy-duty. Ask your vet what they recommend for anti-anxiety. They may be able to prescribe something that can make a difference.
Remember, it’s crucial to consult with a veterinarian before giving any medication to your dog. Human medications can be toxic or have different effects in dogs, so professional guidance is essential to ensure the safety and well-being of your dog.
Here are two more articles that may help: