Whew! For many dog lovers, having the 4th of July in our past is quite the relief. The bangs and booms that bring so much joy to humans, do not fare so well with our noise-sensitive canine friends. Fireworks anxiety in dogs has been extremely high around this holiday. There is so much that could be learned from the experience that we have just had with the 4th of July.
Fireworks Anxiety In Dogs At An All Time High
Saying that the past year or so has been “unusual” is an understatement. No one could have seen the COVID-19 pandemic coming. It turned our world and our dogs’ world upside down. Everything went from the usual hustle and bustle to a strange and eerie silence.
In that time, our dogs have gotten used to a quieter life. We’ve all stayed home and avoided large crowds and events. Now that humans have started getting the COVID-19 vaccine, the hustle and bustle is starting to come back. People are hosting and participating in larger gatherings.
After a year of quiet, the loud booms of fireworks are likely to be a bigger shock to our dogs than they have been in the past. Fireworks anxiety in dogs is likely to be at an all-time high. Those incredibly sensitive dog ears (intended to pick up the very quiet noises of small prey rustling in the brush) will be inundated with the sound of explosions cracking in the air.
Surprising and Unhealthy Findings
When the big booms start, fireworks anxiety in dogs sets their fight or flight instincts into action. Some dogs will become aggressive with people around them and bark heavily. Other dogs will cower and run for cover, looking for the best place to hide from the fireworks.
If your dog can get outside, they may run away from your home and get lost as they search for a quiet place to hide. The dog could be quite far from home when they finally find the peace they are looking for. More dogs go missing on the 4th of July than on any other day of the year.
Another disturbing trend this year is that many dog lovers are turning to medication to deal with fireworks anxiety in dogs. Since dogs are used to peace and quiet after a year in quarantine, dog lovers are expecting that it will be quite a shock to their dogs when all of the fireworks start to go off.
The Problem With Medication For Anxiety In Dogs
Medication may seem like a quick and easy fix for fireworks anxiety in dogs. After all, you just pop a pill into a dog treat, like peanut butter, and wait for the magic to happen. However, medications do come with side effects and dogs can’t tell us how they feel at any given moment. Let’s explore a few common dog anxiety medications (source).
- Alparazolam (Xantax)
Alparazolam or Xantax is a part of the benzodiazepine class of sedatives. It works by depressing activity in certain parts of the central nervous system. Some potential side effects are vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, changes in heart and respiratory rates, and fainting.
- Diazepam (Valium)
Diazepam or Valium is also a member of the benzodiazepine class of sedatives. It is used for a few different reasons in dogs including as an antidepressant, appetite stimulant, and seizure control medication. Some potential side effects are lethargy, aggression, incoordination, and depression.
- Sertraline (Zoloft)
Sertraline or Zoloft is an SSRI medication that works by increasing the amount of the neurotransmitter Serotonin to the brain. Some potential side effects are tiredness, vomiting, diarrhea, irritability, shaking, tremors, itching skin, and panting.
Being medicated often can lead to your dog having these kinds of side effects just as often. Would you want that for yourself? Your dog might not enjoy feeling those side effects either.
Prepare For Next July 4th – and Upcoming NYE
The best thing that a dog owner can do for their dog is to prepare for events like the 4th of July early. Dogs require training. Fireworks anxiety in dogs is a real thing. When anxiety kicks in, it gets harder for dogs to respond to the commands that they are given.
Dog lovers need to prepare early, reward often and love unconditionally. Use a full month to prepare your dog for the fireworks of both the 4th of July and New Year’s Eve. Don’t forget to purchase a pair of Calm dog earplugs by CrittEar to help make things even more calm for your dog. Order a month early and be ready for the fireworks to begin!