Please note that some posts contains affiliate links & I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links Find out More

Fear of Fireworks & Thunder? How to Calm Pet Noise Fears

by | Jul 1, 2022 | Ask Amy Videos, Dog Training & Care | 9 comments

FTC noticeDoes your dog fear fireworks? What can you do for a cat or dog scared of fireworks? What about earplugs for dogs? Cats aren’t immune so New Year’s celebrations, Memorial Day (or graduation hijinks), July 4th fireworks, and thunderstorms can turn pets into shivery bundles of fur when BOOMS, bright lights, or even wind and rain noise fill the sky. Pets can be scared of all kinds of loud noises, and I get asked for advice all the time.

Relieve dog fireworks fearsI share this information twice a year in time for July 4 fireworks, and the New Year fireworks. No matter the time of year, always pay attention to pet safety. Check out these holiday safety tips that work other times of the year, as well.

Noise Fear A Common Problem

Up to 20 percent of dogs fear noises, and pets scared of thunder also fear fireworks. The typical reaction is to hide or run away from scary noises. More pets become lost on July 4th than any other day of the year. Fireworks fears can destroy your fun holiday celebration, when pets panic, break through windows or escape fences. Learn how to find lost pets here.

scared dog Trembling, crouching, and lip licking can be signs of fear.

I’ve got my furry wonders microchipped, and they wear tags on their collars. But in order to be found, the pet has to be willing to come to a stranger. Terrified pets don’t think. That part of the brain shuts off during panic, and cats may dash through doors or scale fences. Frantic pups pull down window blinds, collide with screen doors or crash through windows, while others simply shiver and moan.

Even safely contained pets feel worse with each noisy boom. You may not see quivering scaredy cats, but the stress from noise phobia increases risk of hit-or-miss litter box behavior. Find out more about cat fear here. It’s vital to learn how to calm thunder phobias and noise fear in pets.

scared cat Scared cats crouch and may hide under the bed.

7 Ways to Calm 4th of July Noise Phobia

There are several ways to help reduce noise and fireworks fears in dogs and cats.

  • Behavior help with counter conditioning and desensitization
  • Happy smells with pheromone therapy
  • Comfort clothes that snuggle the pet
  • Muffle the noise
  • Training & brain games to distract
  • Calming supplements
  • Antianxiety vet medications

Behavior Help for Dog Fireworks Fears

It can take weeks or even months for desensitization and counter-conditioning techniques to teach fearful pets that noises won’t hurt them. Behaviorists recommend desensitizing pets by exposing them to recorded sounds of the scary noise played at a very low volume and rewarding him for staying calm. Gradually, you increase the noise level, to help the pup “get used” to the noise–desensitize him–so he can learn to tolerate it.

Densitization programs for fireworks fears and storm phobias are not particularly realistic for most pet people. Pets suffering from storm phobias also may react to the sounds of rain. Even the sensation of humidity or barometric pressure can trigger behavior problems, and you can’t do much to control humidity or barometric pressure.

If you start counter-conditioning your fur-kid as a baby, it can help him stay calm during all kinds of scary noises, from thunderstorms and gunshots to fireworks fears. I’ve done this with both Magical-Dawg, Bravo, and even Karma-Kat. Each time the loud noise caused a “startle” or flinch reflex, I threw a  PUPPY-PARTEEEEE! And I’d exclaim, “WOW, WAS THAT LOUD, WHAT FUN!” and treats rained down everywhere.

Happy Smells to Calm Dog Thunder Fear

Comfort Zone with D.A.P. (dog appeasing pheromone) is an analog of the pheromone mom-dogs produce to calm nursing puppies. It calms the fears of dogs of any age, from puppy to aging oldster. Pheromones are chemical substances made by the animal’s body that act as a form of communication that, when inhaled by your dog, talks directly to his brain. It comes as a plug-in product, or spray that can be spritzed on a collar or bedding.

The Sentry Calming Collar for cats also employs a pheromone that calms fears in nursing kittens and works on any age cat. Cats also benefit from Comfort Zone with Feliway. That’s an analog of the cheek pheromone that tells cats their environment and territory is “safe.” Feliway also comes as a plug-in or spray. For sensitive cats, getting them “drunk” on catnip or silvervine-type products may help reduce kitty fear.

july 4 Get kitty “drunk” on catnip…

The nice thing about pheromone products is they 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 the pet wear the collar or have the product plugged in for several days in advance for it to offer your dog or cat the best benefits. When the weather report indicates thunder in the offing or fireworks are scheduled, plan ahead with these products.

Comfort Clothes to Calm Dogs Scared of Fireworks

Fearful cats and dogs may instinctively look for tight-fitting cave-like places to hide. They often squeeze between furniture and the wall, and dogs try to hide their eyes in your armpit. This applies a comfortable “hug” pressure sensation that seems to calm them, so let your pet seek his own shelter. If kitty dives under the bed, leave her alone. Shut the door and be grateful she’s not outside running for the next county!

Another option is The Anxiety Wrap that applies even pressure to the dog’s body and helps him better manage his stress. A similar product for both cats and dogs that applies pressure is the Thundershirt Jacket for Anxiety. They make these now for cats, too, and the snug vest helps pets calm down during stressful events. Your pet may also benefit from a weighted blanket to snuggle under.

Some dogs benefit from the Storm Defender Cape that reduces static electricity from thunderstorms that prompts some behavior problems. In addition, the Calming Cap seems to help some pups through stressful, anxious situations by hiding their eyes. A new product called The Rein Coat combines a harness, rain-shedding properties and calming relief for anxiety, fear, and aggression and fits dogs (and cats) from 5 pounds to 250 pounds. Because each Rein Coat is custom fitted, it’s a bit pricier than other options.

thunder fears Dogs frightened may not know how to find their way home.

Muffle the Scary Fireworks Noise with Earplugs for Dogs

Cover up the sound with white noise. Use a white noise machine or a radio tuned to static works well.

Play soothing music. Certain types of music can prove calming, by “entraining” the pet’s heart, respiration, and brain waves to slow down and match the soothing rhythm. Harp music has a unique sedative effect on pets because the rhythms and sounds mimic brain waves and help calm the fear. Harp music may prompt you to nap, too. I’m a fan of PetPause.

earplugs for dogs Ear protection for dogs can help muffle the noise of fireworks.

Earplugs for dogs that mask the sound may also help. My veterinarian once told me that when a client’s dog went crazy after they moved near a gun range, the phobia calmed during treatment for an ear infection because the thick ointment muffled the sound. He suggests cotton balls or earplugs as a temporary solution to help muffle the noise. Ask your vet to show you how to safely place anything in the dog’s ears, though, so you don’t damage the pup’s hearing and plugs are easily removed after the upsetting sounds subside. I wouldn’t attempt this with cats, though. Rebecca Sanchez says CrittEar products work great for her furry wonders!

Earmuffs designed for dogs are another option. Hearing protection for dogs can help, but you will need to get your dog used to wearing such things in advance of the noise.

Calm Fireworks Fears with Training Games

If you engage the doggy brain, your pet won’t be able to think and perform obedience commands and panic at the same time. If he has a special toy, ask him to find the ball, or play fetch. Maybe offer a treat-stuffed puzzle toy to reward your dog for staying calm.

The best option is to prepare weeks or months in advance and counter-condition fearful pets to potentially scary noises so they learn to associate something good—a happy game or car ride—with it instead of fearful feelings.

Engage The Brain

The brain can’t think when in a state of panic. But the opposite holds true as well—when thinking, the brain won’t go nutso and turn your pet into a shrieking escape artist. So just before the fireworks start, drill your dog—or your cat—on favorite commands and tricks with lots of special yummy rewards or games. Continue the games throughout and throw a happy-dance party for him staying calm.

Dogs can’t panic when using their brain for something else such as “work” so give your dog a job to do just before and during the thunder and lightning display. 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.
lost cat

Reduce Noise Phobia With Medication

Avoid giving your dog or cat a sedative because it won’t reduce his fear. He just won’t be able to do anything about it, which can make his anxiety even worse. Your vet may prescribe anti-anxiety medication based on your individual pet’s needs, which may also help with separation anxiety.

Supplements containing CBD oil may prove helpful to reduce fearful behaviors in dogs. Just do your research to be sure the product is safe for your pets. Learn more about CBD oil for pets in this article.

A natural supplement of melatonin may help—a substance similar to a chemical produced in the brain that helps regulate sleep. Melatonin helps reduce the panic attacks in noise-phobic dogs, but it won’t sedate the pup. It lasts several hours with a cumulative effect over several days. Find products with melatonin in health food stores, pharmacies, and some supermarkets.

Also, I just heard from a company I’ve long respected. Good Good (formerly Comfort Zone) just launched a veterinary-formulated Canine Calming supplement that contains ashwagandha, chamomile, and L-Theanine to support stress. It could make a positive difference for your shivery pup.

Plan ahead for known scary events like 4th of July. Always check with your veterinarian about any new supplements to ensure the proper dosage for your size and breed of dog.

Make It A Safe Holiday!

Whatever you do, be sure that your precious pet stays safe. Bring outdoor pets inside the garage or the house during the July 4th or New Years Eve celebration. Provide a crate or confinement in a pet-proofed room.

Move horses into securely fenced areas—or better—barns that will safely contain a frantic animal without the chance of injury. And just in case, microchip all your precious pets or have other permanent and reliable identification for recovery if they do the desperado dash when the rocket’s red glare fills the sky.

Just as car rides soothe human babies, a road trip may soothe pets that enjoy the car and take their mind off the noise. Just be sure your cat or dog LIKES car rides. Safely secure him in a carrier or restraint in the back seat during the ride.

Find many more tips on dealing with fear in the books ComPETability (Dogs) as well as ComPETability (Cats).

Do your dogs — or cats — become terrified over fireworks or storms? How do you manage the problem? What has worked for your pets? I hope you’ve never lost a dog or cat but if you have, what steps did you use to be reunited? Please share–it could save somebody else heartache.

YouTube Button

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, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

9 Comments

  1. Crystal

    Amy, Have any suggestions for me when a thunder shirt or loud noise shirt doesn’t work?

    Reply
  2. Amy Shojai

    There are about a dozen suggestions in the post. Have you tried all of them? Music? Cotton balls? Comfort Zone with DAP?

    Reply
  3. Franklin Steele

    As always, a lot of great information. Thank you.

    Reply
  4. Andrea

    A few years ago I fostered any elderly black Lab who was terrified of fireworks. When I sat down she climbed up on my lap. All 100 lbs of her. That seemed to sooth her so we stayed that way until the fireworks were over. Then she was fine.

    Reply
  5. Elizabeth Allweiss

    Cat: “Thunder Shirts” don’t work, neither do white noise, encouragement, scents, collars. THE ONLY THING THAT WORKS ARE CAT EARPLUGS TO MUFFLE THE NOISE. BUT NOT ONE COMPANY CARES ENOUGH ABOUT CATS SUFFERING EVERY YEAR FOR WEEKS , TO MAKE SOFT FLEXIBLE TINY EARPLUGS THAT FIT CAT AND KITTEN EARS- NEED AT LEAST TWO SIZES. COTTON BALLS CAN BE REMOVED WITH A CLAW, OR FIBERS LOST DEEP INSIDE THAT CAT’S EAR.
    I THINK ALL CAT OWNERS SHOULD BOYCOTT ALL ONLINE AND LOCAL PET STORES, BUY NOTHING UNTIL EAR PLUGS ARE DESIGNED AND SOLD NATIONWIDE AND PRICE THEM AT OR UNDER $10 FOR 3+ SETS OF SOFT, FLEXIBLE SHORT FITTING EARPLUGS IN SIZES FOR CATS AND KITTENS!!. NO CAPS OR SCARVES OR ANYTHING OVER THE WHOLE EAR.
    BOYCOTT AND COMPLAIN EVERYWHERE.
    DO NOT PUT COTTON BALLS OR COTTON IN ANY CATS EARS!

    Reply
    • Amy Shojai

      Hi Elizabeth, thanks for sharing your experience. I’m sorry these options haven’t worked for your cats–they do work for some. Cat-designed earplugs could be helpful for many pets, I’m sure. Boycotting sales venues isn’t likely to help, though, since they do not manufacture the products and only distribute. Some pet experts recommend using the soft foam earplugs designed for children — but again, putting ANYTHING inside the cat’s ears could cause unexpected problems should they be inserted too far.

      Reply
  6. Rebecca Sanchez

    I thought I had mentioned this prior on your blog – but see that I didn’t. Check out dog earplugs from CrittEar – my little furry ones benefit from having them when it’s fireworks season.

    Reply
    • Amy Shojai

      Excellent advice, thanks Rebecca! I’ll add this to the blog.

      Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. DOG FACTS On Sale, 4 Days Only: Discounted from $9.99 to $2.99 - […] ← Fear of Fireworks & Thunder? How to Calm Pet Noise Fears […]
  2. Check the Chip Day: Learn All About Pet Microchips - […] July 4, 2012, Dora the German Shepherd jumped the fence of her Frisco, Texas yard due to fireworks fears.…
  3. Puppy Temperament Tests: Understanding Puppy Temperament Testing - […] until the puppy matures. For example, a pup born with a slightly anxious temperament develops fearfulness shaped by the environment…
  4. Summertime Pet Safety, July 4 & How to Find Lost Pets - […] begun, and that’s great fun for us—and not so much for the pets. In fact, you can go to…
  5. Barking Problems: Why dogs bark & how to stop dogs from barking - […] Offensive bark (“It’s MY property, don’t come near!”) […]
  6. 5 Stages of Social Distancing: Grief & Mourning the Loss of Normalcy - […] Conspiracy theories take the place of common sense. Denying reality helps push away or dull the fear, offering emotional…
  7. Amy Shojai'sHeatstroke Dangers: Pet First Aid for Hot Weather Blog - […] ← Fear of Fireworks & Thunder? How to Calm Pet Noise Fears […]
  8. Scared Cat? Here's How to Solve Feline Stranger Danger! - […] new kitten hide under the bed? Do your adult cats disappear when visitors ring the doorbell–or thunder and fireworks…
  9. Summertime Pet Safety and How to Find Lost Pets - […] offer great fun for us—and not so much for the pets. In fact, you can go to this blog…
  10. Fearful Fido? Know the Signs of Dog Fear, Anxiety, and Stress (FAS) - […] is Pet Anxiety Awareness Month. Do you have a fearful Fido? Do you need help with the fireworks and…
  11. Dog Problems? Cat Concerns? Here's How to Find Pet Behavior HelpAMY SHOJAI'S Bling, Bitches & Blood - […] for example, or dealing with cat aggression), as well as puppy and dog behavior issues like noise phobias and…

Leave a Reply

Categories:

Recent Posts

Cat Hairballs & Shedding: 7 Tips to Solve the Big Hairy Deal

Karma-Kat recently has “urped” up more cat hairballs, and I know why. I bet you didn’t know that in hot weather, cats lick and groom themselves to cool off. Of course, that can lead to more hairballs, so in hot weather or shedding season, you may see an uptick in these problems.

But swallowing lots of fur isn’t healthy, and hairballs are more than a nasty nuisance. Kitties that produce three or more hairballs a month should be checked by the vet to rule out other health issues.

Hairballs cause diarrhea, appetite loss, coughing, retching, constipation—or even deadly intestinal blockage. Cats have had hairballs as big as baseballs that require surgery to be removed! Most cases won’t need surgery, though, and most hairballs can be easily eliminated. Refer to these tips to untangle your cat hairballs problems.

Tips for Adopt A Cat Month: Shelter Cats Rock!

I see so many kitten pictures on social media these days. Every June, we celebrate National Adopt A Cat Month (sponsored by American Humane Association) and also National Adopt A Shelter Cat Month (sponsored by the ASPCA. Two holidays wrapped up in one, and how appropriate, since June is kitten season.

But cats can be adopted year around. Both of our cats came to us as “dumped” kitties, showing up on the back porch. When you adopt from a shelter, though, you have the advantage of planning for the new kitty’s arrival. Any time is a good time to bring a new furry wonder into your life. Whether you adopt a shelter cat, foster a kitten, or adopt a cat that shows up on the doorstep, they’re all worthy of love. Right? Here’s my tips guide for cat adoption…

Safe Hot Weather Games for Pets: Keep Cats & Dogs Cool in Hot Weather

Yikes! It’s hot-hot-hot here in Texas. We’ve hit triple digits already. Shadow-Pup is NOT happy. He misses his ZOOMIES in the back garden, but I’m afraid to let him overdo too much. It’s time for hot weather games for pets and keeping cats and dogs cool in hot weather. This year, I’ve invested in more indoor fun for Karma-Kat and Shadow-pup, some with the help of pet products companies sharing neato-torpedo products. Here are some of my favorite pet hot weather games, including Tearribles, Purrini, and LifePro Dog Treatmill (giving some schtuff away!).

What kind of cat toys float your kitty’s boat?  Do your pets enjoy water fountains? Would your hot dog relish a cooling bed, or a wading pool? I offer some more hot weather games and tips in the ASK AMY video, below.

And for a flash from the past, enjoy the Magical-Dawg video of some water fun. I need to get that doggy tub out this year and see if Shadow might indulge.

How do your dogs deal with the weather? Please share your tips for keeping hot dogs cool customers!

Fearful Fido? Know the Signs of Dog Fear, Anxiety, and Stress (FAS)

June is Pet Anxiety Awareness Month. Do you have a fearful Fido? Do you need help with the fireworks and loud thunderstorms happening this time of year that makes dogs scared? It seems silly, but some dogs feel stress when their human wears a hat! I wanted to share some resources for recognizing and understanding signs of canine fear, anxiety, and stress.

While it’s normal for dogs to be cautious and not run head on into traffic, too much stress and anxiety isn’t healthy. Fear, anxiety, and stress (FAS) also affect the immune system, impacting both physical and emotional health.

Up to 20 percent of dogs will be born prone to introversion and fear. Proper socialization improves puppy confidence, but abuse or poor socialization can result in anxiety-ridden adults. Pain or illness also can cause anxiety so these dogs associate certain kinds of handling with discomfort. Ongoing anxiety, stress or fear may lead to fear aggression.

Extreme fear interferes with learning, making it even more difficult to help dogs overcome the angst. Fearful dogs quickly recognize that escape behaviors or fear aggression makes the scary situation go away, so they learn to repeat these behaviors…

Chewy Once a Year Blue Box Event: Pet Products Savings for Your Special Pets

Y’all may notice something different about my blog–yes, it’s been spiffed up, thanks to a fantastic web designer! Seems the perfect time to celebrate with some great opportunities for your pets. Once a year, Chewy price drops all kinds of pet goodies in their Blue Box Event–good from June 21 through June 24, so don’t wait. Stock up on all the must-have dog products and cat essentials, as well as pocket pet supplies. Oh, you’ll find way too many bargains for me to list simply by going to this Blue Box Event link. But here are some of my favorites. Shadow-Pup and Karma-Kat put in their orders. Shhh, keep it a secret or your fur buddies may swipe the credit cards and have a fun time!

Get a $25 eCard Gift Card when you purchase $75 worth of select pet products favorites.

Up to 50% Off Select Toys During Chewy’s Blue Box Event.

Up to 50% Off Select Disney During Chewy’s Blue Box Event

Up to 30% Off Once-a-Year Pet Parent Deals During Chewy’s Blue Box Event

Learn about more savings…

Small In Show: Calling All Pocket (and other ) Pets!

Why do dogs and cats get all the love? Well… they deserve it, but so do the #SmallInShow contenders, as Rainn Wilson says. “Small pets are truly overlooked. Everyone goes straight to dogs and cats. But Kaytee is out to show that these little creatures have big personalities and are just as worthy to be part of your family. That’s something that was easy to get behind,” said Rainn Wilson.

No, I’m not compensated to share this. It just tickled me, and we all need some giggles these days. Back in the day, I loved my hamsters Whiskers, Snowball, and Cinnamon, and the first pet article I ever sold (for real live dollar$$$) detailed the story of my rescue parrot, Venus, a spectacle Amazon. Pocket pets deserve the love, too.

Besides, I miss attending Westminster, and certainly understand where Rainn comes from in his disappointment. Enjoy this fun MOCK-umentary from Kaytee. The company is launching its inaugural #SmallinShow Award Show, inviting pet parents of hamsters, bunnies, mice, birds and other small companions to share images and stories of their mini heroes across social media. The #SmallinShow Award Show will culminate with the crowning of three winners who will each receive a one-year supply of Kaytee products….

Work Goes To the Dogs & Cats: PSI’s Take Your Pet To Work Week!

Today, it’s PSI’s TAKE YOUR CAT TO WORK DAY! At my house, every week is Take Your Pet to Work Week. This year, it falls on June 20-24, with the CATS’ day on Monday, and the DOGS’ day on Friday. For many folks who continue to work at home, they experience the joy–and challenges–of work with furry companions 24/7.

Created by Pet Sitters International in 1999 to help promote pet adoptions, this week celebrates the 24th anniversary of the event. I’ve written about this nearly every year, so you’ll recognize some of the pictures in the blog.

This year, of course, we have a new dog, Shadow, helping us celebrate. And we’re still navigating a new “normal” after losing our beloved Bravo following his cancer diagnosis. You’ll see some pictures of Bravo with Karma and Shadow, below, as I can’t bear to remove them just yet…after all, he’s still one of my Furry Muses…

Heatstroke Dangers: Pet First Aid for Hot Weather Play & Travel

These hot summer days, Shadow loves to run and play outside, but the hot weather can lead to heatstroke dangers in dogs as well as people. This week, we topped the thermostat at 101 degrees, and it will continue to hover near three digits all week long. Fun in the sun can quickly turn to tragedy if pet owners don’t take precautions to prevent cat and dog heatstroke dangers. Pet heatstroke is common because cats and dogs can’t effectively keep cool in hot summer weather. It becomes especially dangerous during summer travel in cars. Here’s how to save your pets’ lives if they overheat…

How to Prepare for a Disaster: Pet Preparedness & Tips

With the latest hurricane on the way, it's time to revisit your pet disaster plan. You do have one, right? After Katrina and Harvey, everyone should understand the importance of disaster preparation. June is National Pet Preparedness Month, and in the fall, September...

Check the Chip: All About Pet Microchips

It's Check Your Pet Microchip Day on August 15! It's early to check but everyone needs a reminder. Your cats and dogs are microchipped, right? When he was (ahem) neutered, Shadow-Pup got his microchip. Both Bravo-Dawg and Karma-Kat already had microchips so that if...

Visit Amy’s Website

Amy Shojai CACB is an award winning author.  You can find all her publications and book her to speak via her website. 

On Demand Writer Coaching

AmyShojai.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com http://amazon.com/.

Awards

Memberships

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This