Fireworks… Fun for everyone?

Summer is on its way, which means BBQ’s, celebrations, and of course fireworks! Everyone loves to watch the big pyrotechnics in the sky. They come in so many colours, designs, and there just gosh darn pretty. But the noise from them can be unfun for many such as people with PTSD and animals (not just your cats and dogs either). So, I am going to give you some information on how you can help prevent disaster for your furry friend or others.

To start with, of course we want to be able to have control of this situation without medications. There are a few ways you can try to do this, but they take a lot of time so you want to start with these weeks to months before you know firework season is coming.

  • Adaptil(dog)/Feliway (cat) – This is a synthetic pheromone spray that can used as something to spray on a blanket or with a diffuser to help keep our friend’s calm. The diffuser can take up to a month to begin working.
  • Thunder Shirt – This is a shirt that you put on your pets tightly and it gives them pressure on their body causing a calming sensation. This is something you have to get them used to wearing to start with. It cannot be just put on and hope that it works.
  • Composure – This is an herbal relaxant that comes in chews for dogs and cats as well as a liquid for dogs. This is a safe product that you can give your pet to help calm them and it works quickly (30 minutes – 4 hours). However, each pet is an individual and will react to this differently so you will want to try it first to make sure you get your desired effect.
  • Ear muffs – Sometimes ear muffs will help muffle sounds from loud bangs such as fireworks. Again, this is something you will want to train to be ok with and nose just use the one time.
  • Calming Caps – These cover your pet’s eyes to help reduce visual stimulation from light. Your friend will still be able to see through it but having less visual stimulation will calm them down. This is something you will want to try on a head of time to make sure you get them used to it or get your desired results.
  • Crating/Kennel – One of the best things you can do is make sure your friend is kennel trained and has a safe space such as a kennel to hide in if needed. Make sure indoor animals do not escape outside by keeping them kenneled or leashed if you’re aware they may be scared, including if they go outside to pee or even if it is a cat. As well make sure outdoor pets are safely inside.

These methods will take some time but can be effective in changing behavior or reaction of our furry pals. However, if you are having difficulties with this or you don’t have enough time there is the possibility of medical intervention (trazadone, fluoxetine, clomipramine) to help our poor anxious pals. It is very important to remember that some of these medications may work quicker and some may still take weeks so it is important to speak to your veterinarian about medications with enough time for them to work. Another important step to having medical intervention to help is understanding when to ask for the medications and knowing that some may require trials before its time for fireworks. Trazadone while one of the quicker medications, can also have the opposite effect that you are seeking so it is very important to trial this one. While Fluoxetine and Clomipramine will need 4-6 weeks to take full effect. The best thing you can do for your furry friend is making sure you plan things well in advance to help them get through their time of need.

Also, if you already get medication for your pet to calm them down and you know what works, the best advice I can give you is get your medication requests in at least 2 weeks before your stressful event to give the clinic the time they may need to get it ready as it could be a busy season for these medications.

Now you could be saying “Wait, I don’t have any pets so why does this apply to me?” Well, this is simple. If you don’t have animals but are planning on setting off fireworks anyway it is highly recommended that you speak to your neighbors and those around that you may set these off so they can also have time to prepare and not loose beloved ones.

Written by: Ashley G, VT