How to respond if your pet is afraid of fireworks, other loud noises

Problem Solvers

DENVER (KDVR) – Fireworks have been a nightly occurrence in many Denver-area communities and across the country, but in addition to the annoyance to people and potential hazards for those with PTSD, many people have reached out with concerns about their pets.

“A lot of the time we do discover fireworks cause a significant noise phobia in our veterinary patients; mainly dogs, but cats can also be affected,” said Dr. Cindy Sotelo, a small animal internal medicine resident at Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

According to Sotelo, oftentimes, dogs will start by trembling. Some will get so scared, they will start showing signs of involuntary urination.

“Some patients do benefit extremely well from sedative medications,” Sotelo explained.

However, if you’re looking for tips for behavior modification at home, she suggests the following:

“Try to use a thundershirt, because sometimes the pressure provides some comfort for patients,” Sotelo said.

Using some nice calming noises or white noise can help too. According to Sotelo, the sound can help drown out the noise from fireworks.

“Also keeping them in a place where they feel safe. So if their crate is their safe space, or if there’s a certain room in the house, that would be an ideal place to keep them,” Sotelo said.

Here are some additional tips from the Humane Society:

  • It’s best to leave your pets safely indoors, preferably with a radio or TV turned on to soften jarring noises
  • Create a safe place for your dog to go when they hear the noises that frighten them. 
  • For some dogs, just the activity or physical exertion associated with going to a specific room or area may be an outlet for their anxiety
  • Encourage them to engage in any activity that captures their attention and distracts them from behaving fearfully
  • Medication may be available which can help reduce your dog’s anxiety levels for short time periods. Don’t attempt to give your dog any over-the-counter or prescription medication without consulting your veterinarian. 
  • Ensure that your pet is microchipped and that the chip is properly registered in the event they get loose

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