Fireworks And Your Pet
Summertime seems to really start with the Fourth of July holiday. Everyone is celebrating, and that celebration usually involves fireworks. While this celebration is always fun for humans, our pet population can have very different reactions. It is fairly common for our pets (both dogs and cats) to experience varying degrees of reactivity to fireworks. Reactions can be both from the sight (flashes/explosions that may be fully or partially visible to the the pet) as well as sounds (we are all familiar with these). Some pets simply exhibit some mild anxiety with some restless behavior such as pacing or mild vocalizing; other pets have extreme reactions that are much more panic driven, and can become destructive to their environments (which can cause themselves severe harm, such as damage to the mouth from trying to chew a crate, or even jumping through glass doors/windows). Additionally, these reactions can escalate on a year by year basis. No matter what level of reactivity there is, we as pet owners need to understand that there is fear, and these pets don’t understand how to handle it. There are numerous options available to help alleviate the distress pets undergo during fireworks. Relatively minor issues may simply need a dark secluded spot with limited sound inputs. There are numerous nutraceuticals available for temporary use in fearful pets (zylkene is one I use frequently, as well as some of the Bach Flower Essences, specifically Rescue Remedy and mimulus). There are also a variety of stress relieving shirt/vest products, the most well know being the Thundershirt. For pets needing more help, we will add pharmacologic therapies. There are a variety of drugs used (alprazolam, trazadone, clonidine, and sileo for example). Specifically I’d like to single out Sileo. This product has been a phenomenal addition in helping pets with any sort of sound phobias. Most veterinarians stock this product, and I would encourage pet owners to discuss its use with your veterinarian. All methods of intervention can be used simultaneously, so they can have an additive effect. It is also important to remember that any intervention should be started several days before the anticipated event. We hope everyone has a safe, happy, and (for our pets) calm holiday.