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K-State Today

July 3, 2017

Veterinarian offers tips for pets' firework phobias

Submitted by Matt Blomberg

Dog and fireworks

While the thrill of fireworks blazing in the skies above are a treat for us on the Fourth of July, our furry friends may not be as happy to see this particular holiday come around.

Many animals, especially dogs, are deathly afraid of the pops, whizzes and booms caused by fireworks. Susan Nelson, veterinarian and clinical professor at Kansas State University, shares these tips for ensuring that your pets stay calm and safe this July 4.

  • Project calmness as some dogs will become more fearful if they sense their owner is nervous.
  • Keep your pet in a crate if that is where they feel the most secure. Some dogs prefer the door to remain open so they don’t feel too confined. You can also cover the crate with a blanket, which may make it feel more secure.
  • Some animals may choose to hide under beds or in closets instead of being crated.
  • Keep pets in a basement where the noise may not be as loud and the flashes of light are easier to block out.
  • Consider taking your dog to an amendable friend's home that is free of fireworks.
  • Make sure your pet has proper identification such as tags and/or a working microchip in case they run off.
  • Put cotton in their ears to block the noise or purchase dog ear muffs for them to wear.
  • Pull blinds and curtains to block out light flashes.
  • Tinted dog goggles also can dim the flashes of light.
  • Turn up the volume on a TV or radio to help block out noise.
  • Have your dog wear an anxiety wrap.
  • Keep your pet indoors to prevent running away or getting injured by fireworks. Some dogs may retrieve lit fireworks and mouthing or stepping on recently exploded fireworks can lead to burns.
  • Natural products and supplements can help with anxiety but many not be enough for extremely phobic dogs.
  • Fill the room with lavender incense or put a few drops of essential oil on a bandana for the dog to wear — do not put the essential oil directly on the dog.
  • Use dog appeasing pheromone diffuser or dog collar.

Extremely phobic dogs may need prescription anti-anxiety medications to keep them from harming themselves. Speak with your veterinarian if your dog exhibits extreme anxiety to fireworks.

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