- by Seneca
If you have a dog that gets scared during fireworks and thunderstorms, it's important to start planning for the upcoming 4th of July. Many animal shelters are urging pet owners to consult their veterinarians for medications to help their dogs avoid ending up in shelters, getting hit by cars, or becoming lost forever. While I personally have reservations about medications, it's crucial to acknowledge the importance of planning ahead, as a terrified animal running on adrenaline can pose serious risks. Our previous dog once jumped over 6-foot fences when scared.
If you prefer non-medication options, here are some alternatives you can consider, either in combination with medication or on their own. It's worth noting that while medication like Acepromazine may reduce your dog's ability to run, it can also leave them immobilized and terrified, which is far from ideal.
- Peace Flower Essence for Pets: Add 4 drops of this essence to your dog's water bowl as early as possible before the commotion starts, as it takes time to take effect. This essence contains flowers that address the hypersensitivity caused by electrical storms and loud noises, as well as anti-anxiety essences. Dogs generally enjoy flower essences in their water, but you can also administer the drops directly from the bottle in crisis situations. It may be necessary to give it more frequently than your dog's regular drinking schedule. You can purchase Peace Flower Essence for Pets here.
- Melatonin: Melatonin is a natural anxiety reliever for dogs. Unlike in humans, it doesn't have a sedative effect but can effectively reduce anxiety. I used both Peace for Pets flower essences and melatonin together for my dog Zoe. Eventually we didn't have to give her anything at all. Here's a liquid form of melatonin that is easy to administer to dogs:
- Dogs weighing 0-30 lbs: 1.5 mg
- Dogs weighing 31-99 lbs: 3 mg
- Dogs weighing 100+ lbs: 6 mg
Consult your veterinarian before giving melatonin to ensure the correct dosage for your pet based on their circumstances and medical history. Your vet can also determine whether melatonin is the best solution for your dog.
- Exercise Early: Help your dog burn off excess energy early in the day or before a thunderstorm, so they have less energy to direct towards nervousness. Since they'll be cooped up inside during the storm, giving them outdoor time while things are calm can be beneficial.
- Create a Safe Space: Set up a small, secure area where your dog can feel safe during the fireworks or thunderstorm. This could be a crate, a small interior bathroom, under a bed, or even a blanket fort. Having a designated spot can provide a sense of security.
- Calming Clothes: Consider using a wrap or garment that provides mild compression, creating a soothing sensation similar to a hug for your pet. You can find these calming wraps on Amazon here.
- Desensitization and Counterconditioning: Gradually expose your dog to the sights and sounds of fireworks or thunderstorms in a controlled and positive manner. Play recordings of firework noises or thunder at a low volume and gradually increase the volume over time while engaging your dog in enjoyable activities or rewarding calm behavior. This process can help them associate the sounds with positive experiences and reduce their fear response.
- Distraction and Engagement: Provide your dog with engaging activities or toys during fireworks or thunderstorms to redirect their attention and help them stay occupied. Puzzle toys stuffed with treats or interactive toys that require mental stimulation can be effective in keeping their focus away from the anxiety-inducing noises.
- Soundproofing and White Noise: Create a quiet and calm environment for your dog by soundproofing their designated safe space. Close windows, curtains, and doors to minimize the noise. You can also use white noise machines or calming music specifically designed for pets to help drown out the sound of fireworks or thunder.
- Consult a Professional: If your dog's fear of fireworks or thunderstorms is severe and impacting their quality of life, it may be beneficial to seek guidance from a professional dog trainer or a veterinary behaviorist. They can assess your dog's specific needs and develop a tailored behavior modification plan to address their fear and anxiety.
- Stay Calm and Provide Reassurance: Dogs can pick up on their owners' emotions, so it's important to remain calm and composed during fireworks or thunderstorms. Avoid reinforcing fearful behavior by overly comforting or coddling your dog. Instead, project a sense of calmness and provide gentle reassurance through a soothing tone of voice and gentle physical contact if your dog seeks it.
Remember, every dog is unique, so it may take some trial and error to find the combination of techniques that work best for your furry friend. Patience, consistency, and a proactive approach will greatly increase the chances of helping your dog cope with their fear of fireworks and thunderstorms. Peace for Pets flower essence is as close to a magic potion as you can get so we recommend starting with that and trying a few of these other techiques at the same time.
Here is what buyers of Peace for Pets had to say about it: