With New Years Eve and Australia Day approaching fireworks can cause a big problem for anxious dogs.
It is natural for dogs to be frightened by loud noises and the fact that they don’t know it’s coming can be a big shock for them. Their instinct is to run away from the noise.
Dogs have been known to scale fences, injure themselves and behave in ways that their owner’s have never seen at other times of the year.
The best advice is to keep your dog away from places where fireworks go off, unfortunately with people letting them off illegally in their backyards this isn’t always possible.
Prepare for evenings when fireworks are expected. If possible stay home with your dog or have a trusted dog sitter stay with them. Keep them inside and have a radio or the television on to provide some background noise so they aren’t sitting in complete silence when the fireworks start. Close blinds and windows in the room the dog is in. Make sure they don’t have access to the dog door or other escape routes if they do take fright.
Your dog will look to you for reassurance so ensure you stay calm and relaxed. If you are anxious and worried your dog will also be anxious and worried. Taking your dog for a nice long walk during the day can help burn up excess nervous energy for both of you.
If your dog has a history of anxiety during fireworks you could try a Thundershirt. A Thundershirt is a shirt for dogs which applies gentle pressure which can have a calming effect on some dogs. It is most effective if you put it on while your dog is calm, once he/she is agitated it is not as effective. In extreme cases we can supply medication for sedation but we only recommend this as a last resort.
Desensitising your dog to loud noises can help for future fireworks and thunderstorms. This can take time but is well worth it. Play the sound of fireworks and/or thunderstorms to your dog before he/she eats, goes for a walk or a play down the park.
Increase the volume and frequency of the recordings as your pet gets more comfortable with it. Your dog should then associate the noise with positive experiences which will reduce the anxiety. This should be done over a period of months and you need to be consistent but in the end it should mean a much happier and less stressful New Years Eve for everyone (human and canine).
Lastly, if the worst happens and your dog gets out, ensure your pet’s microchip details are up to date (have you moved or changed phone numbers recently?) and that your dog is wearing his/her Council ID tag.
If you have any questions or need any further information please do not hesitate to contact us at Hawthorn East Vet 9882 0007 or Kew Vet 9853 7125.