How to protect pets from panic attacks during fireworks

Published: Jul. 1, 2019 at 10:46 PM EDT
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(07/01/2019) - While most people look forward to the sights and sounds of July Fourth fireworks, the noise they create often is not a holiday for pets.

There are steps pet owners can take to calm their dogs, but they're not necessarily what some people expect.

For 6-year-old Jaako, a Jack Russell terrier mix, the sound of fireworks is anything but a good time.

"He cries and shakes really hard, tries to find a place to hide," said Heather MacDonald. "I've made him a little hiding spot under the table with blankets around it. Helped a little bit.".

With the Fourth of July just days away, she also started using a pheromone spray on her dog's collar to try and calm him.

"No more fireworks for us," MacDonald said.

That is a wise strategy, according to Veterinarian Joe Hendricks. He said when dogs feel anxiety, the experience builds on itself.

"Let's remove that anxiety all together," Hendricks said.

He uses an anti-anxiety product on his patients called Sileo. It's a gel that's applied between the dog's cheek and gums.

If a visit to the vet's office is not an option, Hendricks suggests

allowing dogs to be alone in an interior bathroom with white noise. He also thinks ThunderShirts, the calming jackets for dogs, are effective if they fit properly.

What Hendricks doesn't suggest, surprisingly, is comforting your pet when they are experiencing anxiety.

"If you comfort a dog during a panic attack, it actually only encourages him to have more panic attack," he said.

MacDonald already has a plan for Thursday:

"Turn the TV up and have a blanket for him to hide under, stay home with him," she said.

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