Many dog owners who used to love fireworks as children now fear the cracking, popping sound and bright lights that fill the sky. The humans in the household tend to have no problem with fireworks, but Fido often does, and it can be devastating to watch him shaking in agony, pacing the room, or looking for his favorite crate to hide in. You don’t have to feel helpless as the days lead up to the 4th of July or New Year’s Eve. Follow these tips for optimal damage control and ensure the holidays are a happy time for all.
Remove At Risk Dogs from the Source of Anxiety
If your dog has mitral valve disease or other serious diseases, then you know that their health can be delicate and often require pet medication and check-ups with specialists. These dogs can be more sensitive to stress than young dogs in optimal health, so if you can, make arrangements for them to spend a night like New Year’s Eve in the home of someone who perhaps lives in a quieter, more rural area. Some loving dog owners even book an apartment or room for a night with soundproof installations, to ensure a completely stress-free night. They find that New Year’s Eve and other similar occasions simply involve too many hours of sustained stress for their pooch to undergo.
Create a Panic ‘Room’
Use a large crate to create a hideaway for your dog. Place the crate in the quietest area of your home and make sure the space is nice and dark. Cover the crate with a thick blanket crate to block out light, and stick a soft cushion or blanket inside, alongside your dog’s favourite toy or security blanket. Water should be placed nearby so your dog does not have to leave the room to drink.
Time Your Dog’s Last Walk for the Evening
Once the fireworks start, your dog will probably not want to go for his usual last walk. Take him out up to two hours before you know the fireworks will start, ensuring he gets lots of exercise to get rid of any stress. Use a leash while walking, since neighbours may decide to ‘test’ fireworks early, and many dogs try to run away when they hear fireworks erupt. When you get back home, keep him indoors and make sure there is no gap or hole through which to escape.
Talk to Your Vet About Natural Calming Supplements
There are specific ‘natural remedies’ for stress that even dogs who are taking other medications can safely take. Do not buy any of them, however, without receiving approval from your vet. While you are there, you might also ask about therapeutic grade essential oils like lavender, which have no side-effects and which many people find calming (a couple of drops of this oil in particular can be rubbed onto paws or massaged onto your dog, but be careful as many others need to be diluted or used in specific ways). Other pup owners use Rescue Remedy, which is a potent blend of flower essences that many find very useful.
If you have a seriously ill dog, our recommendation would be to remove him from a night of such sustained stress, if possible. Dogs who are younger and less anxious, meanwhile, can be helped by giving them a dark, quiet spot to hide away in, and with the aid of natural essential oils and homeopathic or natural remedies which, however, will require veterinarian approval prior to use.