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Tails of the City

Strange but Effective Ways to Help Pets Cope with Their Fear of Fireworks

July 2, 2014 7:01am (EDT)
Photo courtesy dogster.com.
Photo courtesy dogster.com.

When the fireworks go off on the fourth of July, don’t be surprised if your dogs or cats are not enthused. Our furry friends typically fear fireworks. The loud popping and exploding sounds freak them out. The smell of sulfur makes them anxious.

They are more likely to find a hiding place in the house or bolt off into the woods to get through the show than pull up a lawn chair to sit back and enjoy it.

Pet experts and vets have come up with several strange but effective ways to help your pet cope with their fear of fireworks. I’ve listed some of them below. Keep them handy on Independence Day. You’re going to need it!

Play a fireworks video or audio clip for your pet.

This would seem counterintuitive. But About.com recommends doing this and pairing it with treats, cuddling or other positive reinforcement. This technique desensitizes your pet to the noise.

Play soothing music or white noise.
PETA.org writer Michelle Kretzer recommends playing calming music at a large volume when the fireworks are shot off. (She suggests the “Through a Dog’s Ear” CDs, designed by a sound scientist, veterinarian and concept pianist to ease a dogs’ fears.) The idea is to drown out the bad noise with good sounds.

Slip them a sip of melatonin.

Melatonin is an over the counter hormone used to help treat sleep disorders. An article in the Whole Dog Journal indicated that when given to thunderstorm phobic dogs, it had a dramatic effect. The dogs usually tore through the house and ripped up carpet in reaction to the thunder.

After a lick of melatonin, the destructive behavior stopped. The dogs were no longer bothered by the crackling thunder. They exhibited the same calmer behavior when the hormone was administered during a fireworks display.

Lavish them with lavender
The smell of lavender is supposed to be soothing. Wikihow.com says to create a safe place for your pet to retreat to and spray it with lavender. Lavender leaves scattered around the space is also helpful.

Do you have a tip on how to help your pet cope with their fear of fireworks? Leave it in the comments section below. And Happy Fourth of July!

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