3 Ways to Help Your Anxious Dog on the Fourth of July

Fireworks are Scary for Dogs

Americans celebrate the Fourth of July with family, friends, food, and, of course, fireworks. It is a holiday best observed in the company of others. Naturally, we want to include our four-legged friends too. But by now, we’ve probably recognized that dogs and fireworks DO NOT mix.

Dogs’ hearing is far more sensitive than ours, and they can hear four times farther than we can. So not only will your dogs be bombarded with the sounds of your closest neighbors’ fireworks, they can hear the celebration a quarter of a mile down the road too.

The overwhelming noise and foreign smells of fireworks can really stress your dog out and potentially cause them to run away. More pets are lost on July 4th than any other day of the year. So to make sure both you and your dogs enjoy the holiday, it’s best to keep them safe inside. Read more about how to keep your pets safe on the Fourth in this post.

What Can We Do to Keep Our Dogs Comfortable on July 4th?

My rescue shepherd is brave like most other shepherds, but when it comes to fireworks she’d rather hide under the bed until they stop. She exhibits classic anxiety symptoms every July 4th – panting, drooling, pacing, whining, and trembling. It’s truly heartbreaking to watch.

But over the years, I’ve developed a sort of 4th of July survival pack for her through trial and error. With some dogs, the anxiety is so great that you need to consult your veterinarian for help. But if your dog’s anxiety around fireworks is something you’d like to try to manage, the following products have helped my dog immensely.

Dog Calming Aids

Natural calming aids can often work wonders for a dog’s anxiety.  My recommendation is to try different kinds (with different active ingredients) until you find the one that works best for your dog. Dogs tend to respond individually to calming aids; what works for your dog might not work for others.

Always make sure your dog or puppy is old enough to take any calming aids. Most aids are not recommended for young puppies.

Progility Calming Soft Chews

The Progility Calming Soft Chews are formulated with L-Theanine, Thiamine, Tryptophan, and Melatonin. The chews are cold pressed to retain maximum efficacy of all these ingredients so they are compromised by heat. The formula also includes probiotics to support digestive health.

Vet’s Best Comfort Calm

The Vet’s Best Comfort Calm Chews come in soft chew variety and can be taken daily. Key ingredients are Tryptophan and Valerian root to help relaxation and reduce separation anxiety. These are a once-a-day supplement that are also formulated for dogs who experience stress due to travel.

Heavenly Hounds

Dogs tend to love the taste of Heavenly Hounds Relax Squares. They’re all natural, made with passion fruit and Valerian root. It took 3 years of research for the folks at Heavenly Hounds to develop this blend of calming ingredients.

ThunderShirt

My shepherd is not a fan of clothing, but I gave the ThunderShirt a shot knowing the science behind using pressure to relieve anxiety was solid (Read about the scientist behind pressure therapy, Temple Grandin, here)The first year I introduced the ThunderShirt to the July 4th routine, I did so separately from any other calming aids. Within 30 minutes, my shepherd’s breathing had slowed to normal and the pacing became less frequent. ThunderShirt boasts an 80% success rate, and my dog was definitely helped by wearing it.

Safe Place – Crate

Fireworks can activate a dog’s flight response. Therefore, the recommendation is to keep them inside where they are most comfortable. For my dog, her crate is her safe place. For your dog, it might be a favorite bed in your bedroom. For July 4th, keep your dog away from the action in a designated area where your dog is likely to be most at ease.

Busy Work – Treats and Toys

Luckily, my fireworks phobic dog loves to chew. I can give her a bully stick or a raw bone and divert attention away from the terrifying noises outside. You might have to try several treats or interactive toys before finding the one your dog can’t resist, but it’s worth it to find a distraction.

So, after several years of experimentation, I’ve found the perfect combination of products to relieve my dog’s fireworks anxiety. Please note that what works for my shepherd might not work for your pet, but hopefully, it’ll give you a road map as to which direction to take in your own quest for calmness.

So this coming July 4th, we’ll be prepared to endure the hours of explosions from the seclusion of the house. An hour before sunset, I’ll give my dog the recommended dosage of Progility calming chews and put on her ThunderShirt. She’ll go in her crate in the bedroom with her favorite chews and stuffed Kong. I’ll check on her periodically throughout the evening but have found that minimal disturbance is best.

There will be some whining and pacing but nothing on the level of a full-on panic attack like what she experienced years before.

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