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Scared of fireworks

These days fireworks are not restricted to the 5th November, you are likely to hear them at festivals, parties, ceremonies and various other events throughout the year. As a result, our pets are being subjected to loud noises and bangs throughout the year.

Scared of fireworks

Fireworks, thunderstorms and gunshots are the most common cause of sound phobias in dogs. They involve short, sharp noises and often occur unexpectedly, from the dog’s perspective. While some dogs accept them as part of life others find them incredibly traumatic. A dogs’ response may include hiding, cowering, pacing, panting, shaking and seeking of the owner or it may consist of extreme panic and bolting which places the dog in considerable danger. The more progressed the phobia becomes the greater the extent to which the dogs (and owners!) life is affected.

There are various products available to pet owners to help prevent the development of sound phobias and to treat them once they have become established. These include prevention CDs such as “Sounds Sociable” and “Sounds Soothing”, which are designed to acclimatise puppies to a range of sounds which dogs are likely to encounter in a domestic environment, and behavioural therapy treatment CDs such as ‘Sounds Scary’. Research has shown that when ‘Sounds Scary’ is used in conjunction with Dog Appeasing Pheromone (ADAPTIL) the signs of anxiety in dogs was significantly reduced during exposure to fireworks.

There are also interventions that can magnify the problem and must to be avoided. These include aversives such as shock collars, water sprays, rattle cans and/or physical and verbal punishment. These are usually applied due to misunderstanding and a lack of knowledge which leads owners to punish their dogs for their behavioural responses to the fear eliciting stimulus such as destructive behaviour, toileting and/or vocalisation.

For the most up to date advice and recommended drug therapy for the short term management and long term treatment of sound phobias, veterinary practices please click here.