Furry Friday: Making Fireworks Fears Flee

Lacey is a teeny female malt-a-poo

Even patriotic pups can be frightened of fireworks. Copr. Lisa Calvert/Flickr

PHEROMONE HELP

An innovative product designed specifically to help dogs deal with fear—especially noise phobias—employs a natural pheromone that dogs recognize on an instinctive level. Pheromones are chemical substances made by the animal’s body that act as a form of communication that, when inhaled by your pet, talks directly to his brain.

The product Comfort Zone with D.A.P. (dog appeasing pheromone) is an analogue of the pheromone mom-dogs produce to calm nursing puppies. It calms the fears of dogs of any age, from puppy to aging oldster. Cats benefit from Comfort Zone with Feliway, an analogue of the cheek pheromone that tells cats their environment and territory is “safe.”

Both products come as plug-ins from pet products stores, but it won’t “drug” your dog or cat into a magic cure. It instead helps put a damper on fear long enough to “think” so that your behavior modification/training techniques can work. You’ll need to have these plugged in for several days in advance for it to offer your dog or cat the best benefits.

AROMATHERAPY

You can also find help for dogs from Earth Heart products that use aromatherapy to sooth doggy angst. Canine Calm is designed to sooth dogs prone to distress due to thunderstorms, fireworks and other noisy or anxiety-producing situations. It contains pure essential oils of bergamot, tangerine, lavender, geranium, marjoram, and ylang ylang, all known to have a calming or even natural sedative properties. Earth Guard mists can be sprayed directly onto cloth, skin or fur without staining or leaving sticky residue and are said to be safe for puppies as young as 8 weeks old.

The company also has a “Share the Calm” promotion through June 30th to provide firework phobic, dog loving families with a buy one get one free offer with their Canine Calm purchase, so that they may have one bottle for their dog and share a second bottle with another dog loving family with a firework-phobic dog, or have an additional bottle to take with them on their holiday. Use the code ShareTheCalm at the time of purchase. Earth Heart also offers Travel Calm mist for dogs restless during travel. Luckily, that’s one that Magic won’t ever need–he thinks HE should drive!

GIVE DOGS A JOB

Dogs can’t panic when using their brain for something else such as “work.” Drill him on obedience commands and special tricks, or ask him to play fetch and carry around a favorite toy. That engages his brain into productive activity rather than thinking about the scary noises. Giving him treats and positive rewards for remaining calm also reinforces the benefits of controlling his emotions. For instance, puzzle toys stuffed with fun treats the dog–or the cat–must manipulate to get at the goodies can go a long way toward keeping their mind off the fireworks.

Ideally, pets can be counter-conditioned to the scary noises by exposing the fearful dog to recorded sounds of fireworks played at a very low volume, and rewarding him for staying calm. Gradually, you increase the noise level, to help the cat or dog “get used” to the noise and learn to tolerate it. Desensitization programs can take weeks and sometimes months to work, though.

Are your pets fearful of loud noises? What do they do? Have they ever damaged your house–or injured themselves or others during a panic attack? Is there a special way you handle the kitty or doggy panic attacks? Please share! Here are 12 more tips on relieving noise anxieties.

Being scared kills the fun. Help your pets turn the fearful whimpers and scaredy-cat hisses into joyful purrs and wags, so your whole family (furry and otherwise) enjoy the howliday.

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter for your chance to NAME THAT DOG character in the forthcoming THRILLER, LOST & FOUND, and pet book give-aways!

Comments

Furry Friday: Making Fireworks Fears Flee — 12 Comments

  1. This will be so helpful to so many, Amy! My dog (a lab & rhodesian ridgeback mix) had his tail shot off by a nasty neighbor. After that he was terrified of thunder storms and fireworks. He violently tore off doors, busted through windows, nearly killed himself…we eventually had to put him down. As a teenager, I wish I had the knowledge to help him – or my parents. We need to find ways to communicate with our pets and understand their fears to help them.

    • Oh my goodness, Donna! So sorry about your dog and his tail, no wonder he feared loud noises. Some folks just don’t “get it” about pets.

  2. Our cat is terrified of fireworks. We play his favorite pieces of classical music (or a Django & Grappelli CD) to soothe him and hug him and tell him it will be okay. (Instead of putting a calming wrap on him we are the wrap.) We try to be with him almost all of the time on hoildays so he isn’t home alone listening to it. Sometimes he is allowed extra nap time in the bedroom or some other treat.

    He was a rescue we brought indoors so he had encountered it more up close and personal.

    I don’t think one wants to totally remove the concern about fireworks in case a disaster caused one’s cats to be outside again, just the panic and rushing about.

    My chihuahua once hung herself with her leash in a thunderstorm as she ran off the sunken patio. (My father saved her life and later she saved his and ours. I would not be here if not for her.)

    • Brenda, music does help in many cases. As for the Chihuahua hanging herself–yikes! Sadly, that’s not unusual but so glad that she was saved. Now you can’t post a “teaser” like that about her saving your life, and not tell more! Pretty please? :)

    • Thanks Patricia. The topic really struck a chord, it’s been “shared” and received LOTS of readers/visits. Hope it helps some fur-kids and the people who love them.

  3. Hi, I wrote an article last year about natural remedies for noise fear. I have your book Natural Healing for Dogs and Cats. Great book, I reference it all the time.

    • That’s great! There’s also a new product from Sergeants, the Sentry line that includes pheromones in diffusers, sprays and collars for cats and dogs to help with fear.

      • Thanks, I reblogged this article on my Touch of Home Pet Care Blog. I have left “mainstream” care and learning more about holistic care and remedies.