Question: On what day of the year do vets prescribe more anti-anxiety medication than any other day of the year?
Answer: July 3rd.
Question: What is the busiest day of the year for shelters?
Answer: July 5th.
Unlike thunderstorms, there aren't warning signs that tell your dog fireworks will soon be going off and will last for a few hours. There is no change in barometric pressure or wind speed/direction to give warning. There are sudden very loud noises that smell weird.
If you haven't experienced it, a dog terrified of thunder or fireworks is a sight to behold: Panting to the brink of hyperventilation. Running at full tilt with no sense of purpose or direction. Crying. To say the least, it is one of the most heart wrenching things a dog parent has to watch. It is also very difficult to gain control over the situation once it kicks off.
When one of our dogs was suddenly terrified of fireworks after not being afraid of them for years, we were completely unprepared. That first year was horrible. We finally gained some control over the crazed running around by cramming the dog and 1/3 of a human into the kennel (ya - small dog - small kennel - only 1/3 of the human would fit!). We couldn't control the shaking, crying, and panting until well after the fireworks had concluded.
It is VERY hard to stay calm and not coddle when your dog has gone from happy-go-lucky to FULL FREAK OUT MODE at the first pop. It is however what your dog needs from you. They need to see that this is just a loud smelly noise that will go away.
Over the years, we have tried a lot of anti-fireworks solutions. None of them has been a 100% fix but, used in combination we have been able to establish some calm control to lessen the anxiety.
Here is everything we have done (in combination). We'd love to hear what you've tried!
- Thundershirts and other calming wraps (like one of your old shirts that would fit tightly around your dog).
- Music. The iCalm music is fantastic for fireworks and thunderstorms. They also have a series on noise desensitization if you have the time to work through it starting months in advance. You can also download many of the tracks from iTunes or Amazon.com.
- Add essential oils like Lavender, Bergamot, Sage, Frankincense, Clary sage, Palmarosa, and Ylang Ylang to your diffuser. Mix up your own anti-anxiety blend and start it well before the fireworks begin.
- Create a "safe place" in the house and let your dog stay in that safe place when under stress. Need some ideas? Under the bed, in the shower or a closet.
- Rent a LOUD movie (like Pirates of the Caribbean), turn the volume up on your TV, pop some popcorn, and make it a family night on the couch with the dogs wrapped up and the diffuser blasting away!
If your dog is solid as a rock during fireworks and you are out and about, please keep your eyes open for dogs who were caught outside during the displays and may be in full panic mode! They'll be missing their parents once the fireworks end and will need some help to get back home!
PS: A HUGE thank you to Harper in Wisconsin! 4-Legger is one lucky company to have such a loyal customer & beautiful Thundershirt model. Also, thanks to your loving Moms for taking the time to send in your picture!