Helping Your Pets Cope with Fireworks

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Sycamore Vet offers tips to help keep pets calm and safe during upcoming Independence Day celebrations and other noisy situations.

Sycamore Vet: Love Unleashed

The veterinarians at Sycamore Vet are experts in their fields when it comes to safeguarding a pet’s health and comfort.

While humans flock to fireworks shows to marvel at the lights and noise, dogs often have unpleasant physical reactions to sudden loud noises, which can be quite traumatizing.

Every Fourth of July weekend, the Conrad family has an annual neighborhood cookout. Their 11-year-old cocker spaniel/beagle mix, Buddy, loves the party. Running around the yard with the neighborhood children, burying stolen hot dogs in their hydrangea garden — it’s the perfect day for any dog.

However, Independence Day always leads to a perilous night for Buddy. Despite his calm, friendly demeanor during the day, Buddy becomes very stressed, anxious, and clingy as soon as the evening fireworks display begins. Misunderstanding the loud, unexpected noises and flashes of light, Buddy paces around the yard and becomes uncharacteristically nervous. Last year, he even jumped the fence and spent several hours lost in the neighborhood.

According to Sycamore Vet’s Dr. Christina Martin, Buddy, who is one of her patients, isn’t the only pup who isn’t fond of fireworks or other loud situations, like summer storms.

“This is a common issue for many dog owners, and we actually have a name for it — canine noise aversion,” said Martin, a practicing veterinarian in the Midlothian community for more than 15 years. “While humans flock to fireworks shows to marvel at the lights and noise, dogs often have unpleasant physical reactions to sudden loud noises, which can be quite traumatizing.”

Canine noise aversion is a term veterinarians use to express a wide spectrum of a dog’s anxiety and fear-based behaviors associated with noises such as fireworks, thunder, celebrations, construction work, traffic, and other noisy events.

“Noise aversion causes both mental and physical distress for dogs and in some cases can actually lead to a serious level of suffering,” Martin says.

However, there are some preventative practices pet owners can take to lessen the impact of predictable noisy situations, like fireworks shows or storms. Martin sometimes suggests medical treatments for severe cases, like Buddy’s.

“In Buddy’s case, I prescribed a brand of dexmedetomidine called Sileo, which is a non-sedative gel that you place between the dog’s cheek and gum,” Martin said. “With proper training, it’s easy for owners to administer and it works quickly to helps dogs better cope with loud situations while remaining fully functional and interactive.”

In extreme cases, Martin sometimes prescribes light sedatives, but said many cases of canine noise aversion can be helped with commonsense non-medical techniques.

“It’s natural for family pets to feel disoriented during firework displays, so one of the most important things you can do is to keep your dog inside with the curtains and blinds closed,” Martin said.

Here are some other tips that may help your dog enjoy a safe, calmer Fourth of July evening:

  • Don’t take your dog to firework shows.
  • Give your dog a safe place. If you crate your dog when you’re away, drape blankets over the crate to muffle the noise. No crate? Consider, leaving your pet in a smaller-sized space, like a bathroom, until the fireworks conclude.
  • Play soft music to comfort your pet.
  • Give your dog access to lots of treats and toys to distract them from the commotion.
  • In case your dog finds a way to escape the house or yard during fireworks, make sure your pet is wearing proper identification or are microchipped.

Another big reason to keep dogs indoors is that running away from loud noises is a survival instinct for dogs, which can be dangerous, said Martin.

“Many dogs hurt themselves trying to escape yards, cause roadside accidents, get caught in fences, or are lost permanently during firework shows,” she said. “Exercising your pets early in the day will prevent your dog from being outside during the typical fireworks hours that could set off their flight or fight response.”

Need an Expert Source on Pet Health?

Dr. Christina Martin and the other veterinarians at Sycamore Vet are experts in their fields when it comes to safeguarding a pet’s health and comfort. To schedule an interview with a Sycamore Vet doctor, or if you need an expert source on any pet health story, please contact Madison+Main Communications Manager Kent Brockwell at (804) 349-8251 or kentb(at)madisonmain(dot)com

About Sycamore Vet Hospital

With more than 30 years of service, Sycamore Vet is a full-service veterinary clinic and hospital that specializes in emergency and urgent care services for pet owners in Midlothian, Virginia. Working together as a team, the staff at Sycamore Vet is committed to providing considerate, compassionate care that comforts pets, families, and the community. Learn more at sycamorevet.net

About Madison+Main

Madison+Main is an award-winning brand communications firm and, simply put, we believe that Bold Brands Win. Clients include the Auxo Medical, Boleman Law Firm, CowanGates, The Dragas Companies, DRIVE SMART Virginia, FC Richmond, Guided Discoveries, Marketplace Events, Mavalerio, National MS Society, NC4, New Horizon Bank, Richmond International Raceway, Virginia’s Office of the Attorney General, State Corporation Commission (Virginia Energy Sense), Sycamore Vet, Synalloy, and many others. The firm is based in Richmond, Virginia, with an additional office in Blacksburg, Virginia. Learn more at madisonmain.com

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Kent Brockwell
Madison+Main
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Sycamore Vet
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