HOW TO HELP DOGS DURING FIREWORKS

Certain events, holidays and occasions are celebrated with fireworks and they’re generally associated with fun, relaxation and celebration. Unfortunately, many dogs don’t feel the same way.

WHEN DO CANADIANS TEND TO USE FIREWORKS?

For humans, fireworks are mostly considered exciting and beautiful. For many cats and dogs the display, especially the associated sounds and unpredictability, can be terrifying and stressful. There may even be accompanying smells that contribute to the panic.

The point is: they shouldn’t be expected to cope with that level of stimulation.

Dogs react differently when scared and anxious. Some will cower and hide; others might become destructive or aggressive. Trembling, drooling and barking are not uncommon either. Reactions we don’t notice include increased heart rate, adrenaline rush and increased circulation of stress hormones.

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU’RE EXPECTING FIREWORKS

  • Microchip your pets and make sure they’re wearing ID tags.
  • Take your dog for a long walk/run before the fireworks start.
  • If pets are socialized early enough and exposed to a variety of loud noises and stimuli, fireworks may not be an issue. Think car horns, whistles, thunderstorm recordings, etc.
  • Desensitization: gradually help your pet get used to fireworks by playing audio recordings of fireworks and/or showing videos with audio. You have to start early and gradually increase the intensity of exposure. This process can take weeks, even months.
  • Calming music designed to reduce canine anxiety (sound therapy) is available. It should be introduced as early as possible, played before fireworks and during.
  • You can also take your pet to a family member, friend or dog sitter where they can avoid the display. Just make sure your pet feels comfortable and safe there.
  • Ask your veterinarian about calming medications, natural mists and homeopathic remedies that can help ease anxiety.

WHAT TO DO DURING A FIREWORKS EVENT

  • Firstly: you need to stay calm.
  • Secondly: you need to make your pet feel as safe as possible.
  • Choose and provide treats that will keep your dog busy for hours.
  • Calming wraps can help some dogs feel secure during this stressful time.
  • If you haven’t prepared your pet for fireworks, create a safe space in your home. Some dogs feel safe in their crates. You can also cover the crate with a blanket.
  • Remove visual stimulation and play calming music in the safe space you’ve prepared.
  • Keep your pets inside, preferably with company. Make sure the space is well ventilated.
  • Make sure their bed, favourite toys and other comforting items are nearby.
  • Close the windows and curtains/blinds, without compromising ventilation.

This one might seem obvious, but don’t bring your dogs to a fireworks display.

FINAL NOTE

Most puppies arrive at their new home at 8 weeks old. By this time, there are only 12 weeks/one month left to help your puppy get used to as many sights, sounds, smells and experiences as possible. This is the ideal time to introduce visual and audio stimuli for fireworks, thunderstorms and other intense occurrences. For older dogs, try to start desensitization as soon as possible and introduce calming music to create positive associations.

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