If Your Dog Is Afraid of Fireworks, See Your Vet Now

What are we here for this time?

Every year I post an article about last-minute things you can do to help your dog who is afraid of fireworks. We are coming up on Canada Day and U.S. Independence Day, and that means bangs and booms. Over the years I have tweaked my list. I’ll be posting it in a few days.

But this year I am posting earlier with the most important tip of all.

  1. See your vet.

If you see your vet now to discuss prescription drug possibilities, you have time to make sure they work for your dog and your vet can adjust them if necessary. There are new products on the market, as well as several options that have been around for years.

Here is what Dr. Lynn Honeckman, veterinary behavior resident, says about the benefits of medications.

Now is the perfect time to add an anti-anxiety medication to your firework-preparation kit. The right medication will help your pet remain calm while not causing significant sedation. It is important to practice trials of medication before the actual holiday, so that the effect can be properly tested.

There are a variety of medications or combinations that your veterinarian might prescribe. Medications such as Sileo, clonidine, alprazolam, gabapentin, or trazodone are the best to try due to their quick onset of action (typically within an hour) and short duration of effect (4–6 hours).

Medications such as acepromazine should be avoided as they provide sedation without the anti-anxiety effect, and could potentially cause an increase in fear.

Pets who suffer severe fear may need a combination of medications to achieve the appropriate effect, and doses may need to be increased or decreased during the trial phase. Ultimately, there is no reason to allow a pet to suffer from noise phobia. Now is the perfect time to talk with your veterinarian.

Dr. Lynn Honeckman

Sound phobia is a serious condition. The best way to help your dog get through the coming holidays in the U.S. and Canada is to contact your vet for help. Call now.

Copyright 2019 Eileen Anderson

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6 thoughts on “If Your Dog Is Afraid of Fireworks, See Your Vet Now

  1. I did want to comment about the use of medication in fearful dogs. First, let me stay I’m all for it! While it shouldn’t be substituted for appropriate training, anti-anxiety medication is a great tool to help fearful dogs. But the medication can sometimes lead to fear itself. We have a very fearful dog (a puppy mill survivor) who we suspect may even have PTSD. If she needs to go to the vet, we do give her anti-anxiety medication. About 30 minutes after we give her the meds, she will run to us, shivering and shaking, clinging, giving all signs that she is very frightened (she will not play, will not take treats, etc, so we just hold her and pet her and talk softly to her and reassure her). The meds make her feel a little “funny” or “weird”. This fear lasts for about 10 to 15 minutes. It isn’t prefect for her, but it’s much better than letting her face the vet without medication on board (believe me, we tried without meds, it was NOT a good situation for anyone–especially my dog). She does this with all meds, so it isn’t just the particular medication we give her. So by all means, give anti-anxiety medication, but don’t freak out if they temporarily cause fear themselves.

    1. Thank you for this caution! I’m guessing it may be rare for a dog to react that way to a variety of meds, but it’s really an important thing to share and let people know that it’s temporary.

      I think people are getting used to the idea that there may be side effects at the beginning ith longer-acting drugs, but I haven’t heard of it as much for situational drugs. Thanks very much for sharing!

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