For the Love of Vets

For the Love of Vets

Ways To Help Your Dog With Fireworks Anxiety

Erin Steeves

If your dog is afraid of fireworks, summer can be a rough time for them. Many people shoot off fireworks all around the 4th of July and even throughout the summer for a variety of gatherings and events (whether it is legally allowed or not). As such, you may find yourself wondering what you can do to help your dog with their fireworks anxiety. Get to know some of the steps that you can take to help your dog get through fireworks season without being too fearful and unhappy. Then, you can be sure you are doing the best you can for your dog going forward.

Try a Thunder Shirt

Thunder shirts are essentially vests or shirts designed for dogs that are fearful of loud noises like thunder. You put the shirt on before a storm, or before/during fireworks to help keep them calm and feeling safe. 

The thunder shirt gives your dog essentially a tight hug. It is a compression shirt that applies pressure to your dog's body, making them feel safe and protected. These thunder shirts have shown to be effective for many, but not all, dogs. 

Measure your dog's girth and weight (oftentimes done at a veterinarian's office) before you order the thunder shirt. You want to be sure it fits snugly to the body. Otherwise, it will not effectively do its job. 

Talk to Your Veterinarian about Medications

There are also short-acting anxiety medications that you can try for your dog if a thunder shirt does not help or only makes a marginal difference. These medications are options like trazodone and other medications. 

Trazodone is technically an anti-depressant designed for humans but has been used on dogs as well. It can help to calm their nerves and keep them relatively sedated through fireworks and other anxiety-inducing events.

If you can, you want to administer the medication one to two hours before the fireworks start (if they are random, you may have to just give your dog the medication when the fireworks first go off). Trazodone can take one to two hours to fully take effect. Also, it works better on an empty stomach. So, keep that in mind when you are administering medications and planning pet meal times. 

If trazodone alone is not effective enough for your dog, it can be increased in dose or combined with gabapentin or other medications to help quell your dog's anxieties and fears of fireworks. Your veterinarian could also prescribe long-term anxiety medications taken every day like Prozac or other similar medications.

Do not administer any of these medications without instructions from your veterinarian. Dosing for dogs is much different than for humans, and you could do more harm than good if you try to do it yourself if you happen to have any of those medications on hand. 

Now that you know a few ways to help your dog with fireworks anxiety, you can be sure to contact your veterinarian right away to help you fit your dog for a thunder shirt and/or medicate your dog so they remain happier and calmer during fireworks season. 


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For the Love of Vets

Did you know that when a veterinarian graduates from veterinary school, they must take an oath before they are allowed to practice? This is similar to the Hippocratic Oath that doctors take upon graduating from medical school. The new vets promise that they will work to relieve animal suffering and promote the overall health of pets. They also promise to uphold their profession with dignity. If you have ever taken your pet to the vet, you've probably seen a vet live this oath firsthand. You can be confident your pet is in good hands. Learn more about vets and the wonderful work they do in the articles curated here.