Reducing Pet Anxiety and Stress during Summer Thunder and 4th of July Fireworks

0 Comments Friday, June 24th, 2016.

Tis the season for loud thunder and flashes of light. If it’s not thunder ringing out, then it’s fireworks. Once the evening storms stop, the nighttime sky will be lit up and massive booms will ring through the air. Enjoyed by many people, loud noises from storms and pyrotechnics can send pets into an all out panic. The 4th of July can be a very challenging day for many pets and their owners. Shelters report this as their busiest time of year, as panicked pets escape from homes and yards. Fortunately, there are many medical, behavioral and over the counter treatment options for pet anxiety and noise phobias. Some tips and treatment options may include the following:

1. Desensitization therapy. Recordings or MP3s of thunderstorms can be played at gradually increasing volumes on sunny days to get your pet used to the sound of thunder.
2. Exercise. A well exercised dog, both mentally and physically, is nearly always a better behaved dog. Exercise your dog early in the day before the fireworks start.
3. Distractions. Providing your pet with something else to do can help minimize anxiety. For dogs, a Kong filled with treats like frozen peanut butter can help keep them occupied. Interactive cat toys can reduce feline anxiety.
4.Safe-room in the house. Keep your pets inside during firework and thunderstorms. Provide a safe area for your pet to use to hide from the noise. A small windowless or basement room would be ideal to minimize noise. Dogs frequently like small enclosed spaces such as a crate when feeling anxious.
6. Solliquin. Available through your veterinarian, Solliquin is an amino acid nutritional supplement combined with casein, a milk protein extract.  This combination has been shown to reduce anxiety. It has no known side effects.
7.  Diet.  For cats, Royal Canin has developed a diet line named “Calm” that has been shown to decrease anxiety in some cats.
8. Alprazolam/Xanax. Available by prescription from your veterinarian, this drug is similar to Valium and can reduce anxiety in some patients. Definitely ask your vet if this drug is appropriate for your pet. Medication alone is not the answer.
9. Prozac. For long term generalized anxiety management medication, this may be an option. Consult your veterinarian
10.  Trazodone.  For short-term anxiety inducing situations, this medication may be a helpful option.  Consult your veterinarian.
11.  Sileo is the only FDA approved treatment for noise phobias in dogs.  It comes in an easy to use gel filled syringe.  The medication can be given before or during thunderstorms, fireworks or any other stressful event.  It contains a sedative that has been commonly used in veterinary clinics for many years, and is given in a micro-dose to dogs at home to minimize any side effects.  In the unlikely event of an overdose, an antidote is readily available on the shelves of most veterinary facilities.

Should your pet escape, you can increase the chance of your pet’s safe return by making sure your pet has both identification tags and a microchip. If you do lose a pet, notify the local animal control officer and local shelters. Post your pet’s picture and information on both your own social media page and the pages of local animal related businesses to spread the word. Locally, the group Dog Gone Recovery has had great success finding missing dogs.

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