Firework Fright- Dealing with Dog Anxiety

With Canada day here, and July bringing a host more celebration days, there are going to be a lot of fireworks! As much as we can appreciate and marvel at the lovely light displays there’s no two ways about it–fireworks are loud.

We tense before we hear the explosions, or plug our ears and our kids’ ears, but our dogs? They don’t know what’s going on. It’s a big scary noise and for most dogs, it’s terrifying! Think about it–if your dog is afraid of the vacuum, or the laundry machines, or even the sounds of the garbage trucks operating outside in the morning, what’s going to stop them from being scared of a rapid series of huge explosions?

Thankfully there are a lot of options to help ease our dogs’ fright.

Thundershirts

Many of you by now have probably heard of Thundershirts. The idea behind them is the same principle that we here at K9 Gentle Dental take into account when we swaddle small dogs for their teeth cleaning–having a firm pressure on the dog’s body helps prevent them from escalating to a point of anxiety and fright where they well and truly start to panic. The Thundershirt has a tri-fold system that wraps securely around your dog’s ribcage to provide that all around pressure. It works the same as it does for us; mothers wrap their babies tight to help keep them calm and relaxed, weighted blankets have been proven reduce anxiety in those with panic disorders or developmental disabilities like Down’s Syndrome and Autism.

The Thundershirt (available for both cats and dogs) comes in a variety of sizes and is highly adjustable. Many people put their dog’s harness overtop of the Thundershirt if they need to be out walking and there is the potential for anxiety triggers; the coat itself is quite thin so it’s very adaptable! This product boasts an 80% success rate as reported by owners and veterinarians, so if you wanted to stay away from supplementing then this might be the option for you!  

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Pheromones

Vets carry a line of pheromone sprays for dogs (Adaptil) and cats (Feliway) that have clinically proven to reduce anxiety. The pheromones are synthetic and mimic the same “dog appeasing pheromone” that mother dogs release to their puppies to give them the confidence to explore, and will help dogs with dealing with new and uncomfortable situations that induce fear–like fireworks! These products are available at any veterinarian’s office, as well as select pet retail stores. They come in a variety of applications, such as collars, diffusers, and sprays.

Feliway works in the same way, but for cats–obviously!

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Sprays

There are also non-pheromone sprays that are available across the board–too many to list here in one article! Your local pet store will have a variety of sprays that boast different ingredients to help keep your dog calm. Most sprays are intended for use on furniture, such as a spot that your pup frequents or a blanket that they enjoy.

It’s important to note that some products contain essential oils, some of which are very harmful for your dog and even more so for your cat! Please review the sites below to figure out which essential oils are dangerous for your pet so you can steer clear of those for use. NEVER use pure, undiluted essential oils on or around your pets–as the saying goes, less is more, and caution is advised above all else.

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Treats

As supplements aren’t always the easiest to use (especially for picky pets), many companies are coming out with treats that contain their proprietary blends of anxiety-reducing herbs and tonics to give their pets peace of mind a little more easily. As there are so many anxiety-reducing treats on the market, I can’t list them all here–go to your local pet store and ask the advice of one of your great pet experts for which treat might work best for you and your pet!

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Supplements

There are a ton of anti-anxiety supplements out on the market that have high success rates as boasted by owners; it’s all a matter of choosing what is right for you! Many of these are herbal, or oils, and can be added to a regular diet. As with the treats, there are so many out on the market that it would be impossible to list them all! Here are some examples below

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CBD

As seen in one of our previous blogs, CBD (cannabinoid oil) has a host of benefits for the body–one of those main benefits is anxiety suppression! CBD has proven a wonderful tool to manage anxiety and fear, and comes in a variety of different products–from oil suspensions to treats, it’s out there! Check out more info about CBD below, as well as some companies that provide these products.

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Your Own Behaviour

The best thing to do during fireworks when your pet is freaking out is to remain calm! They will panic more when they see you panic–dogs and cats are emotional sponges, just as kids are. Don’t act like anything else is different, don’t coddle them, just make a nice cozy place for them to rest, and do your best to block out the noise.

With that being said, enjoy the festivities!

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