Almost half (45 per cent) of dogs in the UK show signs of fear when they hear a firework and whilst dogs of any age, breed, gender or neutering status can be affected by noise phobias, herding breeds such as Border Collies, tend to be more susceptible as can young and elderly dogs.
As an owner, you want to do the right thing for your pet so that they remain healthy, active and able to get the most from life’s moments, every day. This means equipping them with the right tailored nutrition alongside appropriate care to support them no matter what comes their way. To help you ensure your dog remains as calm as possible during firework season, we have some top tips and advice on how to detect noise phobia in your dog, what can cause it and the steps you can take to minimise disruption.
Does your dog may suffer from noise phobia?
There are many signs that your dog could have a fear of the sound of a firework, including repeatedly hiding or attempting to hide or escape, pacing, circling or acting restless. Other signs to look out for are, rolling over onto the side or back, grooming excessively, freezing or stopping from moving, panting, yawning and licking lips excessively, drooling, being very vocal or even refusing to eat. Although this list is not exhaustive these behaviours can indicate that your dog is anxious and fearful.
What causes noise phobia?
Nobody is really sure what causes a noise phobia but we do know that dogs can inherit the condition or they might develop it after a traumatic experience. Dogs with fearful temperaments also might be more “sensitive” to noises. If your dog has a true noise phobia then he or she is likely to have one or more relatives that suffer from it and any offspring will inherit it too. Because of this, breeding from affected dogs is not recommended.
How can you help?
- Keep to your usual routine: Try to stick to your usual routine as much as possible by taking your dog for a walk before it gets dark and sticking to mealtimes, feeding a 100 per cent complete and balanced diet. Eukanuba is passionate about developing tailored nutrition in conjunction with vets to support dogs from puppy all the way through to their senior years, with ingredients that promote real visible benefits with a lifelong impact. Eukanuba Puppy provides 86 per cent animal protein for strong bones and healthy joints for an active lifestyle whilst Eukanuba Adult offers a balance of omega 6 and 3 to help promote a shiny coat and nourished skin. In addition, Eukanuba Mature & Senior helps dogs to maintain strong teeth, healthy gums and fresh breath throughout their life thanks to its unique 3D DentaDefence system.
2. Avoid triggers: Noise phobic dogs should not be brought to firework displays in the hope that they’ll get used to it. Doing so will probably intensify their fears.
3. Don’t use punishment or shout if your dog reacts to the sound of fireworks. This will only make them more anxious and they may even react aggressively to you. Instead, try to comfort them using long firm massages strokes.
4. Medication: Your vet may prescribe anxiolytic medication to aid treatment and minimise your dog’s suffering. The goal is to reduce the intensity of your dog’s fears. These medications should be used in combination with a behaviour modification plan outlined by your vet.
5. Playing CDs of firework sounds: In some cases, behaviour modification techniques such as desensitisation and counter conditioning to sounds from a CD will be recommended. Essentially, this is getting your dog used to the sound of fireworks from a CD at a volume that doesn’t provoke a full blown fearful or panic reaction and rewarding him for that. You gradually work your way through a programme until your dog perceives the sound of fireworks as being a good thing!
By following these tips you’ll help to relax your dog during firework season, however it is highly recommended that if your dog reacts to fireworks you should take him/her to the vet for a complete physical check to screen and treat for other anxiety disorders as his welfare may be severely compromised.
For more information please visit www.eukanuba.co.uk
This story is a guest submission and does not reflect the views of Dogs Monthly Magazine, always consult a qualified expert.