JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – How many of you at home dread fireworks or thunderstorms because of what it does to your pets?
It can send their anxiety into high gear, leaving them shaking or even looking for cover. Frequent pop-up-thunder storms and fireworks to celebrate the 4th of July can be terrifying for pets.
Dr. Hugh McClelland says those sudden noises can severely affect pets.
“Their hearing is so sensitive, and the sudden sharpness is probably painful and scary,” said Dr. Hugh, a veterinarian at Durbin Creek Animal Hospital. “They don’t know when it’s coming, and they don’t know what’s making it. They are just looking for some relief from that.”
There are several valid and safe options on the market.
Hugh said prescribed drugs, which are FDA-approved, are common. Over-the-counter supplements and vitamins are, too. They are all used with the goal of relieving a pet’s stress.
“CBD, tryptophan, melatonin, [are examples],” Hugh said. “Not prescription medication, but helpful for relieving the anxiety. Some may be more calming and sedative properties. Others may be more pain relief. Others may make them feel good and make them more active and have a better appetite.”
But Dr. Hugh says finding what is right for each pet is all through trial and error.
“One dog may feel very strong effects from an over-the-counter calming supplement,” he said. “Another dog may not see any changes.”
Calming caps and ThunderShirts are non-drug options. Calming caps can be placed over a pet’s ears or eyes for comfort. ThunderShirts essentially snuggle them in.
Anxiety from sudden loud noises is not just restricted to dogs. Cats, birds, rabbits, horses, and even wolves can be affected.
Some animals can experience life-threatening anxiety from loud noises such as fireworks. It happened in 2021 at the Big Oak Wolf Sanctuary in Clay County.
A wolf, known as “Solomon,” had a stroke after panicking after fireworks were set off. He eventually died. The sanctuary said another died from a heart attack in a similar situation a year earlier.
Hugh had this warning to pet owners.
“Be ready for the fireworks,” he said. “They can start early. Keep your pets inside for sure through the entire evening.”
Not every veterinarian recommends supplements. If products like ThunderShirts do not work for your pet, there are other potential solutions.
Blast loud music to drown out the noise outside and turn on the TV with the volume up. Consider putting your pet in a different room in the house with the lights off and some comforting blankets.