Firework Fear in Dogs and Cats
Fear of fireworks is common in a lot of dogs and cats. The loud explosion can startle them and they can get hurt from panicking and trying to get away from the terrifying noises.
Independence Day was marked the busiest day at pet shelter due to pets who escape from the home during fireworks. Some pets are lost, injured or killed from trying to run from the loud noises. Knowing which vet clinics are available after hours is important around this time of year in case of an emergency. Herkimer Veterinary Associates has a doctor on call 24/7, even on holidays.
Most pets should not be left alone during firework events. If your pet has a fear of fireworks some signs to look for are:
- Attention-seeking (vocalization, pawing, nuzzling, climbing up people)
When pets try to escape it usually results in hiding behind furniture, or staying in a dark quiet place like a basement or bathroom. Because the source of the noise is confusing to pets, indoor animals may try to escape outdoors and some outdoor pets may try to get indoors. Make sure all pets have a collar and form of identification in case they do escape and get lost. A Microchip is a great form of identification that can’t get lost while on the run.
Keeping excess water available is important because nervous pets tend to drink more water.
For many frightened pets, staying in a carrier or crate is the best option. They will feel safe in a small enclosed area. A bathroom, small room or closet with a closed door can work as well.
Synthetic pheromone sprays such as Feliway (cats), and Adaptil (dogs) can be used to help calm your pet. These can be purchased at Herkimer Veterinary Associates or a local pet store. These sprays imitate the natural pheromones of lactating females that gives kittens and puppies a sense of well-being.
Some pets respond to pressure wraps such as a Thundershirt. The pressure against the body can have a calming effect.
If you can plan ahead for these events, some behavior modification training or counter conditioning can help benefit your pet.
It is easier to prevent a fearful reaction than it is to reverse one. A short-term sedative before the fireworks could be just what your pet needs. Talk to your veterinarian ahead of time so you have something on hand to use before the event happens.
Some severely anxious pets may benefit from drugs that increase the serotonin level. This can start working in a few hours or may take several weeks so it is not always the best option.
There are many options to help your pet with their fear of fireworks. Talk to your vet at Herkimer Veterinary Associates to help find the right treatment for your beloved pet.