Protect your fireworks-fearing pet

By Bonnie Culverhouse

Many people enjoy the booming sounds and flashing lights of fireworks, but they can be terrifying and overwhelming for Fido and Fluffy.

During the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, pets can become so frightened by the noise and commotion of fireworks they run from otherwise familiar environments and people, and sadly become lost. 

Joe Scroggs, DVM, of Trinity Animal Hospital in Minden, said there are ways to keep your pet calm during fireworks.

“One way is to be near them,” Dr. Scroggs said. “Pets like feeling the security of companionship.”

He recommends a product called a “Thundershirt” that mimics the pet being held by the owner, if the owner has to be away from the home during a fireworks display. 

“Covering the windows so pets can’t see the flashes from the fireworks may also be helpful,” he said.

Being aware the New Year’s holiday is coming up allows the owner time to bring an outside pet indoors. Dr. Scroggs recommends keeping them inside as long as possible.

“I believe that having the pet inside provides them a sense of security,” he said. “You have to be careful leaving dogs inside unattended that normally live outside, considering they may damage household goods in reaction to the fireworks. I recommend all pets kept inside be attended while fireworks are being enjoyed by others outside.”

Medication can be helpful.

“There are several drugs that your local veterinarian may prescribe your pet for anxiety,” the veterinarian said. “My personal favorite drug for controlling anxiety in dogs is Trazadone. The nice thing about this drug is that is has little to no side effects, doesn’t have to be tapered down and it has a wide range for dosing to properly tailor the need for each pet.”

He recommends Fluoxetine for cats.

Some other pet recommendations include the following:

• Close the curtains or blinds and turn on the TV or radio to provide some distraction.

• Treat toys such as Kongs filled with their favorite food may help keep their minds busy and distract them from the fireworks.

• A quiet place, such as a carrier or crate may provide your pet with a sense of security and comfort.

• Use a leash or carrier if you must go outside with your pet to keep them from running off which is a common response to stress and fear.

• Take pets for a walk before the fireworks begin. Some pets are too frightened to go out once the fireworks are popping, and this may lead to an “accident” later on.

• Make sure your pet’s ID is current. Your pets should always have proper identification tags, with current information, in case they get lost.  Micro-chipping is strongly recommended.