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If you have a dog who is scared of fireworks, you know how nerve-wracking fireworks-based holidays can be. Dogs may panic during fireworks and could hide, become aggressive, urinate out of fear, and show many other potential behavioral issues related to their anxiety.
6 Ways to Help a Dog Who’s Scared of Fireworks
In this article, we’ll walk you through six possible ways you may be able to help a dog who is suffering from a fear of fireworks. Try these options to see which ones might work for you and your dog. Don’t forget to talk to a vet if you need more suggestions as well.
Some things you can do to help your dog if they’re scared of fireworks include, but aren’t limited to:
Prepare Ahead of Time
When you know a holiday or event is coming up that is going to involve a lot of fireworks, prepare at least a week ahead of time. This way, you won’t be scrambling around at the last minute trying to get everything ready for your dog, and you’ll be able to create a sense of peace within your household when the time comes.
The day of the fireworks, prepare ahead of time as well. Feed your dog early if you need to, and take her outside to potty before the fireworks begin. This way, she will be settled into her routine before the problem occurs.
Try Not to Leave Your Dog Alone
If at all possible, make plans to be at home with your dog during the time of any scheduled or expected fireworks. You don’t have to spend every moment with your dog during the fireworks (and this may actually cause more harm than good), but you should be at home if possible, to help reduce other stress factors in your dog’s life at the time.
If you absolutely cannot be at home during fireworks, consider having a friend, family member, or pet sitter come to stay with your dog instead.
Create a Safe Space in the Home
Put together a dog-friendly safe space where your furry friend will be safe and secure during the fireworks. This space may be as simple as a dog crate or as complicated as a laundry room or guest room that can belong only to the dog for the night.
In the safe space, keep a bowl of fresh, clean water in or near this space so your dog doesn’t have to travel far to get a drink, but refrain from providing food until your dog has settled down again later on.
If your pet is anxious, familiar scented items or favorite bedding and toys may help the pet feel more comfortable. However, if your pet is prone to damaging these items, it is recommended to remove them from the safe space.
Drown Out the Sound
It’s not possible to totally drown out the noise of fireworks, but you can help your dog feel a little more relaxed by covering up the sound with other household noises as much as possible. Play gentle music near your dog (but not so loud that it is painful) or keep a TV on in the same room where your dog will be staying.
Another great solution for this option is to turn on a white noise machine. These machines play soothing noises that are designed to help people relax, but they work well on dogs sometimes too. If you don’t have a white noise machine, you can find many white noise mobile apps instead.
Try a Thunder Shirt
Thunder shirts work well for many dogs, although they don’t work for every dog. These shirts provide deep pressure therapy by making the dog feel wrapped up and secure during a situation that causes panic or anxiety.
If your dog is scared of fireworks and you choose to use a thunder shirt, try your dog in it before the fireworks to make sure it fits. This is also a good chance to figure out whether or not your dog is going to panic more from having the shirt on, which can sometimes happen.
Last but not least, always remain calm. If you are panicking or worrying over your dog all night, then your dog is going to pick up on those feelings as well. The calmer you are, the less likely it will be for your dog to panic throughout the fireworks too.
Work on striking the right balance between interacting with your dog and not. Don’t coddle your dog, but also don’t completely ignore your pet either. When you do interact with your pet, do so as you would under any other normal circumstances, and don’t act like anything is out of the ordinary.
Ask a Vet for Advice if Your Dog’s Scared of Fireworks
With the right planning and preparation, even a dog who is very scared of fireworks can get through the Fourth of July and other holidays that prominently feature fireworks. Remember that, if all else fails, there is no harm in asking your vet for advice and possibly for anxiety medication that can help your dog feel calmer during these times of the year. Your vet will be able to give you the best information for your individual dog’s needs.
However, if your dog is having a hard time during the fireworks, especially during a holiday or late at night when many general practices are closed, it may be necessary to seek emergency vet care.
At VEG, all of our locations are open overnight and 24 hours on weekends and holidays, with most being open 24 hours every single day of the year. If you notice that your dog is really struggling during the fireworks, call us at any time for advice. Dogs should never been worked up or stressed for long periods of time, as this could cause them to develop other health problems. Our emergency vets will speak with you directly to help you determine if your dog should receive care right away and will answer any other questions you may have about your dog’s health.