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Fireworks phobias

(17 Posts)
pequena Thu 04-Oct-12 12:14:34

Hi everyone!

I am a vet who is desperately trying to raise awareness about fireworks phobias this year BEFORE the big night itself so that as many dogs and owners as possible don't have to suffer the stress and utter terror that some poor pets go through. There are loads of effective things that can be done (without the use of drugs!), but they need a few weeks to put into place.

Does anyone on here have a dog that struggles with fireworks? If so, what have they tried to do to help?

daisydotandgertie Thu 04-Oct-12 12:20:55

One of mine does. We've tried many things, including valarian, a thundershirt, conditioning training, sessions with a behaviourist, DAP diffuser and sedation - and probably a few more besides!

She has improved a little as a result some of the above, but is by no means cured. She is 12 now and has always been terrified of fireworks and thunder.

TheGOLDCunnyFunt Thu 04-Oct-12 13:13:16

I don't know about my dog. We only got him at the end of January so we haven't experienced bonfre night or NYE with him yet. He isn't too bad with thunder, he's a bit nervous of it but otherwise ok.

Scuttlebutter Thu 04-Oct-12 13:44:46

Our darling old girl (now sadly no longer with us sad) really struggled with this. We found that Valium, prescribed by our vet, was very helpful. We gave it on Bonfire Night itself, the nearest two Saturdays (peak nights for bangs) and New Years Eve (which has now become just as noisy angry). Our othert two dogs were calm but this didn't seem to help her.

One year we actually went away for the weekend before Bonfire Night to a quiet rural getaway and found that very helpful, as there was simply so much less noise.

What has also helped (and made last year much more bearable) was that we were very pro active in calling our local non emergency number whenever kids started messing around with fireworks - with us, usually around a month before. The police were brilliant at responding to this and so last year we really noticed a big difference in the run up season which was very much more peaceful.

I'd also like to encourage other MNetters to really think about whether a home fireworks display is really necessary and to support organised community displays, and also NOT to buy fireworks for teenagers. Modern fireworks are so noisy they must be terrifying for wildlife, horses and other animals, as well as being disruptive to many people.

pequena Thu 04-Oct-12 14:35:33

Amen to that Scuttlebutter! If people knew when and where fireworks were going to happen, it makes preparing for them much much easier!

There are so many options for treatment - a lot of them relating just to changing your (owner) behaviour. Supported by pheromone products and herbal medicines, such as Scullcap and Valerian (already mentioned and not to be confused with Valium, which is a sedative), with enough prep time, you can see major differences in a few weeks.

The blue cross and the PDSA both have good advice sites:
http://www.bluecross.org.uk/90954/top-tips-for-firework-phobia.html
http://www.pdsa.org.uk/pet-health-advice/fireworks

There is also a wonderful blog by Dorwest herbs (who make Scullcap and Valerian products which are licensed in the UK), which is great for getting kids involved. It's being written 'real-time' so you can follow along with 'Merlin' - a dog with a noise phobia - in the run-up to bonfire night www.merlintakescontrol.wordpress.com.:

The best thing to do is talk to your vet now, so that you can give non-drug options a chance to work.

MissBetseyTrotwood Wed 10-Oct-12 13:05:37

Ah, just thinking about asking all this.

My vet has a Thundershirt (half price as was returned by another owner who bought two by accident!) and I was wondering about it.

The nurse also recommended the herbal stuff and the collar thingy. I'd need to start these this week though?

pequena Fri 12-Oct-12 08:59:29

Yep, that would be best :-)

With the DAP - I usually recommend using a plug in near where your dog sleeps as this reinforces it's effect (if a dog sleeps, it is generally more relaxed, so it will associate relaxed with the DAP, albeit subconsciously). The herbal medicines work best if you start on a daily dose now and perhaps give a double dose on days that you suspect will be particulaly bad (e.g. the weekends around bonfire night and the night itself).
Have a look on the Dorwest website for more info about the specifics - they are great if you ring them too - I used to do it all the time!

Make a den now, let your dog get used to it (don't force them in, but reward when they get close, then when they go in etc.) and remember not to react yourself if your dog gets worried - just leave him/her to it, as hard as it is!

TomYumSoup Wed 17-Oct-12 10:58:42

Has anyone tried the Dorwest Valerian Compound? I would have liked to try the Adaptil tablets but the best price I could find for them was going to work out at £60 for just one months supply for my two greyhounds. I also looked at the Valerian tablets but don't think one of my boys would be too keen on 7 tablets a day which is what I think he would need to take. Any thoughts appreciated.

Cuebill Wed 17-Oct-12 16:21:57

This is a personal soap box of mine. But now is wayyyy to late to start working on firework phobias. Although if you work at daily from now you may make things easier for your dog

Desensitisation is very affective but it has to be started well in advance of Bonfire night.

By playing the sounds of fireworks very quietly to start (free versions can be found on the internet or you can buy cd's) so the dog has no reaction and either feeding the dog or playing with the dog. Do this daily and gradually turn up the volume. Over time maybe months your feeding time will be to a background of loud fireworks and no reaction from your dog at all.

When you hear fireworks outside feed or play with the dog as you did in training.

This will work if you do not rush the training.

In my experience medication makes most dogs worse. It may knock them out at the time but they tend to feel out of it and out of control which actually makes the fear even greater next time around.

AussieMam Thu 18-Oct-12 23:48:32

Thundershirts are brilliant in a large proportion of dogs. They don't work on every dog but I know loads that have benefited. My big rescue wears one for stressfull situations and it's a miracle(he's not stressed by noises so I can't say first and about fireworks).

QueefLatina Fri 19-Oct-12 00:00:20

My dog is 5 and has developed a fear of fireworks and thunder in the last 6 months or so. He even used to come with us to a fireworks display but now he shakes when he hears them even very faintly in the distance.

Do dogs often develop these fears later?

QueefLatina Fri 19-Oct-12 00:05:00

Oh, we haven't tried anything apart from putting music on very loudly which works. I felt like I was doing my online food shopping in a nightclub!

We live right in the city centre so fireworks are a big problem now he has developed. A phobia. This bonfire night we're visiting rellies in Devon so hopefully won't be too stressful. If it is then it looks like we'll be having a disco!

He's a border/beardie collie cross so a bit odd anyway.

coffeeinbed Fri 19-Oct-12 08:09:12

My dog's not bothered, but lots of dogs he plays with are complete wrecks.
It's annoying just how early it all starts, firework season seems to be from mid-October now.

Fadqueen Fri 19-Oct-12 08:22:02

My poor dog, a five year old golden retriever, is absolutely beside himself at the sound of fireworks. Bonfire night and new years eve have become hellish and I don't like to leave him unaccompanied. Fortunately, thunder doesn't faze him at all.

Thanks for the great advice; I will look into the desensitisation with the firework cd and speak to my homeopathic vet.

Aquelven Fri 19-Oct-12 20:37:31

The five I have are so laid back about them that they are practically horizontal. The littlest one will sometimes have a bit of a bark, more a case of telling them off, she isn't scared of them at all. But two of the ones I used yo have were really upset with them. One used to try to get under the bed, not easy when the bed is one with drawers underneath & he was a big Old English Sheepdog, the other little one used to turn to a quivering jelly. She only stopped being upset when she got old & went deaf. The best thing was to turn the TV up really loud, which they liked. The neighbours didn't but as they were the ones setting off the fireworks I couldn't care less & we have no other neighbours for miles.

The best cure, I think & can get quite soap boxy about, is to have the sale of all fireworks to the public banned. Think they should only be allowed at licensed displays. Ridiculous that what are to all intents & purposes offensive weapons can be sold in shops & fall into the hands of innocent children, or moronic idiots, when there are stringent laws against the carrying of knives & guns.
OK, rant over, I'll shut up now.

thegriffon Sat 20-Oct-12 20:05:47

My lab is OK as long as he's outside and can see the fireworks, so we leave the back door open. If he can't get out he panics, whines and barks and runs about, perhaps he thinks we're under attack.

WhatTheFookIsGangnamStyle Mon 22-Oct-12 00:33:22

I hate this time of year. My dog gets into a terrible state. She worries so much and her whole body shakes. I shut all curtains, turn telly up louder than I'd normally have it and try to make her a safe hideaway, put up cage with big blanket covering top and sides so she can hide there if she chooses to. This year I'm thinking about using DAP but wonder how effective it really is or whether its more a gimmick. How do thundershirts work? Concerned she might feel too constrickted. Dont really want to resort to using valium. I wish fireworks were completely banned.

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