Dealing with Pets and Fireworks Now


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At this point – just before the Fourth, odds are the fireworks have begun. If your think your pet (cats too) can deal with the noise by hiding, then support the need by providing a hiding a sanctuary space or fortress using blankets and towels (even better if they smell like family members and aren’t fresh out of the laundry). Many hiding spots currently exist, like the back corner or a closet or under a bed, even in a bathtub. It’s often our inclination to pull the pet out of hiding to have them face their fear, but that idea isn’t particularly humane or effective. Imagine, if you are terrified of snakes and your are thrown into a small room with 100 snakes. That doesn’t seem right and certainly won’t diminish the fear.

There’s a myth that expressing care and petting a frightened animal only adds to anxiety. Indeed this is a myth. Telling your dog “It’s okay, I’m here” may or may not help your pup to feel better but it certainly can’t hurt. It’s a myth to believe this reinforces the fear; you can’t easily reinforce an emotion.

Products Can Help

So, do allow pets to hide if that helps them to feel more secure. These pets may also benefit by many over-the-counter, or available online. Keep in mind, what helps one pet a lot may have little benefit for another.

There are today so many nutraceuticals available online and at brick and mortar pet stores. However, only this pawful truly have scientific efficacy:

Zylkene: “The official calming supplement of  the Fourth of July.” As their website says, helps pets to find their “zen.” Zylkene contains bovine-sourced hydrolyzed milk protein, an ingredient that has been shown to have calming properties, particularly for situational stress and to loud noises. Like great granny used to say, “If you’re upset, drink a glass of warm milk.” Great granny was right. These are tablets which can be opened and the palatable contents sprinkled on dog or cat food. Learn more at www.happypets.com.

ANXITANE (L-Theanine) Chewable Tablets help pets keep calm and relaxed. Containing a pure synthetic form of L-Theanine, an amino acid naturally found in green tea leaves, ANXITANE Tablets are a palatable option that both cats and dogs.

Solliquin: Soft chews with L-theanine, an amino acid found naturally in green tea, stimulates production of alpha brain waves, supporting relaxation and mental awareness.

Calming Care is a probiotic from Purina ProPlan Veterinary Diets, which can be sprinkled on the dog’s food. A six-week supply of supplements contains a strain of beneficial bacteria known as BL999 that’s been shown to help keep dogs calm during stressful situations such as separation.

Pheromones: For dogs, plug in an Adaptil diffuser, and for cats, Feliway Optimum. Each is a copy (analog) of naturally occurring pheromones to help each species to feel more comfortable in their own environments.

While all these products are safe and there’s science to demonstrate effectiveness, still it’s strongly suggested to get input from a veterinary professional. By themselves, these products don’t usually resolve dogs or cats truly inconsolably phobic about fireworks; they are best used as an adjunct to other therapies or for dog or cats “mildly stressed” about the fireworks.

Each of the following options has potentially calming effects and is something dogs can wear:

  • Thundershirt: A vest that applies gentle, constant pressure, similar to swaddling an infant – originally created for dogs fearful of storms.
  • Storm Defender: a cape with a special lining that surrounds your dog.
  • Anxiety Wrap: uses acupressure and gentle, maintained pressure to help relieve stress and fear in dogs.

CBD Products

Anecdotal reports suggest that CBD for pets may help to relieve anxiety.  There’s no published science – at least not yet. Also, not all CBD products are the same; the notion that all CBD products do no harm may not be true. Do consult a veterinary professional. However, depending on where you happen to live, local laws may not allow veterinary professionals to discuss these products, even though they may be readily available. Bottom line: Jury is still out.

Anyone Can Do This

Close windows (to lessen the sounds) and pull down the shades. Turn on relaxing music or your favorite talk radio station. And try to distract with food puzzles or better yet, the kids (or anyone) interacting with the pet in a fun way. And be careful as so many (too many) pets are lost at this time of year.

If the pet’s terror level is high, and best described as inconsolable with signs that include shaking, excessive salivation, incontinence, decreased appetite, consider psychopharmaceutical intervention as arguably the most humane choice.

SILEO oromucosal gel (rubbed on a dog’s gums) is targeted for noisy times such as fireworks or thunderstorms. In about 30 minutes to an hour SILEO takes full effect, and lasting two to three hours. SILEO is not labeled for cats.  There are additional psychopharmaceutical options; contact your veterinarian.

Here’s what you should NEVER do.