The 4th of July is almost here and summer storm season is just around the corner. These two seasonal staples promise a lot of breathtaking sights, entertainment, and an influx of noise.
While many of us will be watching the fireworks and enjoying the summer storms, many dogs stress out and have extreme anxiety and fear from the loud sounds that accompany fireworks and storms, which can have an impact on pet health. Some shake, some hide, and some even try to go through doors and windows trying to escape the sound.
So, what do you do to help your dog stay calm? Our expert veterinarian Dr. Kristen Andrews offers these tips to help keep your dogs healthy and free from anxiety during thunderstorms and fireworks this summer.
Stay calm yourself. Your dog feeds off your energy. If you are calm, it will help reassure your dog that everything is ok. Speak to him or her with a confident and happy voice. Don’t punish him or her for being fearful.
Provide a place for your dog to hide. I remember being a kid and wanting to hide under my blankets in my bed during thunderstorms. It made me feel safe and secure. The same can be said for many dogs. Providing a crate that he or she can hide in can often times make them feel more safe and secure.
Distract your pet. Trying to get them to do something else can get their mind off of their fear. Play fetch, distract them with their favorite toy or favorite treats, try and engage him or her in some other activity to keep their mind off the noise.
Play some calming music. Many pets respond to music and something soothing can help to ease your pet’s nerves as well as your own.
Try desensitizing your pet to the sounds that scare them. You can purchase a CD that helps your pet become accustomed to the sounds that upset them, such as sound CDs that mimic storms. We have done desensitization classes at our animal hospital and this method can be very helpful!
Use a Thundershirt or calming supplement. While these don’t work for every pet, there are many pets that do respond favorably to the Thundershirt which provides gentle hugging pressure or natural calming products like Composure.
Have your veterinarian prescribe a sedative for your pet. When nothing else works, if your pet becomes very destructive, or could harm itself (I knew a dog that jumped out a window during a storm and tore the ligaments in its knee), your pet may need a sedative to help them relax and stay calm during storms or fireworks.