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How to help a pet who's scared of fireworks this Fourth of July
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How to help a pet who's scared of fireworks this Fourth of July

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Dogs are social creatures, and your presence is comforting. Dogs will respond to situations that are potentially scary to them by watching their owners' actions and emotions. Be calm, supportive and snuggly.

Q: My dog is frightened by fireworks. How can I help him?

A: Great question, and this is very common.

It's certainly best to know when fireworks are to be expected so that you can make preparations if possible. If you can leave town for a quieter setting, that would be fantastic. But because fireworks are mostly ubiquitous this time of year, it's going to be tough to avoid, so try to insulate your dog from the sights and sounds. Use your basement or an internal room of your house. Play the radio or turn the television up loudly to help mask the sounds. Close windows, doors and blinds to reduce the visual clues and sounds of the fireworks.

It's best to stay with your dog if possible. Dogs are social creatures and your presence is comforting. Dogs will respond to situations that are potentially scary to them by watching their owners actions and emotions. Be calm, supportive, and snuggly. You can give treats or play games to distract them as well. It's also good for you to be present to ensure that they do not injure themselves if they were to panic. More dogs escape home during the Fourth of July than any other time of the year, so make sure that all doors and gates are secure. Also, make sure your dog is microchipped in case of an escape during a panic.

We have some success with Thundershirts or Anxiety Wraps. These are snug-fitting vests that squeeze and apply pressure over the body that many dogs find comforting. Your veterinarian might recommend a pheromone product that comes as a collar, room diffuser or spray. That pheromone is appeasing to dogs and helps reduce anxiety.

There is also now an FDA-approved medication that is labeled and advertised to reduce noise aversions. It inhibits anxiety by blocking the release of norepinephrine. We have been using this medication more and more with great results.

It would be a good idea to talk to your veterinarian about a comprehensive "fireworks" plan. — Drs. Josh and Marya Teders, owners of NorthArlington Animal Clinic in Upper Arlington, Ohio.

Here are some more tips:

Calming dog treats can help de-stress a dog and help with anxiety or excess energy:

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