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Dog terrified of fireworks. Please, any advice

(20 Posts)
EarthMotherImNot Sun 04-Nov-12 13:05:26

DD2 is living back home with us and so is her dog. She is around 4 years old and is normally a happy friendly bouncy little thing.

Occasionally,over the last couple of weeks some cretin has let a firework off on the fields behind us and the poor creature almost has a fit. She shakes very hard, she pants until she dribbles and she tries desperately to find a hiding place. This lasts at least an hour and is very upsetting to us all.

There is nowhere we can put her where she won't hear the noises. Last night was bad enough but we're all dreading tonight. Any suggestions please!!!

Harebell Sun 04-Nov-12 13:12:12

I dose mine up with Bach's Rescue Remedy

chipsandpeas Sun 04-Nov-12 13:12:29

my dog is the same, hes 6 and over the years i havent found anything that works for him (bought DAP stuff, rescue remedys etc spent a fortune)
only thing i found last night helped a bit was have the TV up a lot louder than i normally would (x factor was really good for it tho )
as much as i hate seeing him terrified i have to - its only for a few more days then hopefully thats it until new year

saying that i will try any suggestions people make

laptopcomputer Sun 04-Nov-12 13:13:51

Have you spoken to a vet?

EarthMotherImNot Sun 04-Nov-12 13:49:28

We haven't as yet spoken to a vet, thought I'd try you guys first.

silverangel Sun 04-Nov-12 15:39:04

Our vet gave us Calmex, unfortunately my dog seems to be immune to the effects! Could be worth a try though?

Beamur Sun 04-Nov-12 15:42:40

My dog hates this time of year too.
Hard though it sounds, try not to make too much fuss - just carry on as normal.
You can get CD's of firework noises that you can play quietly over time, increasing the loudness to try and desensitise nervous dogs.
You can also get plug in pheremone devices which supposedly help calm dogs, but I think they need a few days to get going.
We even tried tranquilisers one year, but I'm inclined to think that a groggy terrified dog isn't much of an improvement for our dog.
We went out last night and left a radio on quite loud to try and disguise the noise a bit.

MrsZoidberg Sun 04-Nov-12 16:35:08

We found that playing music loudly takes the edge off it for our girl.

oreocrumbs Sun 04-Nov-12 16:41:23

Can you make her somewhere to hide? A crate covered in blankets, or a big cardboard box, and stay with her.

Have you tried taking her to bed with you or the sofa and letting her get under the duvet. She will feel a bit more secure when she is hidden, and has company. It won't be a cure all but will help a bit.

Also close all curtains so she can't see the flashes and lots of other noise, tv/music etc.

Whisper to her and stroke her.

LoveDogs Sun 04-Nov-12 17:31:58

Both our girls were terrified of fireworks and we tried everything we could, in the end we had to just leave them to it (although that sounds harsh) and have the TV up as loud as we could and then leave the radio on overnight as the fireworks would go on all night where we live. Ddog1 died 4 years ago, Ddog 2 is now deaf and Ddog 3 just barks at them so we don't the problem anymore, but I still sympathise with you.

SpicyPear Sun 04-Nov-12 17:41:30

I've just bumped a thread with a link to a great info sheet. It's a but late, but for today you need loud music or tv to mask the sounds, curtains drawn to block flashes and to let her find a safe den like space. Converted create, under a bed or desk, wherever she can hunker down and feel safe. Ideally stay near, but don't make a fuss, just be calm yourselves and let her get on with it.

When it's all over, start a desensitisation program for next year and nearer the time look into dap or valerian based diffusers, rescue remedy etc.

SpicyPear Sun 04-Nov-12 17:42:03

Covered crate i mean!

bureni Sun 04-Nov-12 17:47:48

If the shops were only permitted to sell the damned things a day before they are meant to be used there would not be a problem for animals or people, that would allow pet owners to plan ahead instead of enduring weeks or months of random explosions.

SpicyPear Sun 04-Nov-12 17:53:35

I'd support licensed displays only. We've had them almost every night for two weeks already. With diwali coming up after, SpicyDog probably won't be able to leave the house for more than a quick toilet for well over a month. Makes me very sad.

maxcliffordslovechild Sun 04-Nov-12 19:16:57

Big cardboard box works for my poor girl, she gets to hide and it helps a bit although i can still see the box shaking hopefully it'll all be over soon, till the new year.

lifeistooshorttodrinkcheapwine Sun 04-Nov-12 20:24:21

I haven't much advice to give, just sympathy. We are going through it with our two labs - both are petrified, one more than the other. Shaking, hyperventilating, salivating, one tries to dig holes scrabbling with his paws

We've got them on zylkene from the pharmacy and a dap diffuser also i've given them each a half of a Kalms tablet (herbal sleeping pills for humans) We've got the curtains drawn and the tv and radio on loud.
I had it with my previous dog too, she died at 13 , although i like firework displays (but not the random bangers thrown by kids) i haven't been to see a display for over 20 years.

pequena Mon 05-Nov-12 16:08:19

Massive sympathy to you and anyone who has a doggie that suffers from a fireworks phobia.

Great advice given so far and all I really have to add is re-iteration.

The key things that I tell my clients (I am a vet):
- Use pheromone products. Although you may not see an effect necessarily, your dog will be feeling it. ANY reduction in anxiety is a good thing. Just don't necessarily expect miracles.
- Don't immediately jump to drugs as an answer and please please NEVER let a vet prescribe ACP. This is a sedative that used to be popular, but it causes sedation and does not reduce mental awareness, so the poor dog is terrified, but cannot do anything about it. This drug worsens firework phobias in the long run. There are other sedatives that can be used that are much more suitable
- Herbals remedies work in a lot of cases. Just like with the pheromone products, they generally work better when 'built up' in the system over a period of about 3 weeks, but Scullcap and Valerian (only veterinary licensed version in the UK is from Dorwest Herbs) and particularly Valerian compound can give an immediate effect on the day. PLEASE be careful with human drugs / remedies - these products have not been tested on animals and many common human drugs are extremely harmful to animals (example: we pop paracetamol like sweets and it is deadly to cats). Even if not immediately toxic, their effects can cause kidney and liver damage over time.
- If your dog wants to run and hide - let it! Wherever it is, that is it's way of coping.
- Close curtains, keep noise levels normal in the house (alight volume elevations are fine, but don't go crackers - again, it's outside the norm and signals something weird going on)
- Don't treat them any differently, including comforting them more. Your dog will look to you for guidance when he/she is afraid. If you are acting weird, then it signals to them that there is something to be afraid of.
- Plan for next year - desensitisation works, but it has to be something that you dedicate yourself to. Just like miracles don't happen with people with phobias, neither should we expect them to with dogs.

I really would urge anyone who has a dog with a fireworks phobia or indeed any health complaint to visit a vet for advice - we are trained in how to help and desperately want to. You wouldn't look up how to fix a gas leak online, you'd get a professional in to protect yourself and your family - why treat your beloved pet any differently?

Spamspamspam Mon 05-Nov-12 21:00:47

I would agree with Pequena's advice re ACP's - I saw what it did to my dear old horse and I would never ever have given her ACP's had I known.

I regularly walk on MOD land and there are training exercises on almost every day some parts of the year. I have deliberately taken her up there since she was a pup especially to get her used to loud bangs and flares etc. As soon as I know there will be lots of training exercises up we go and we walk in and around as much as we can within the safe areas. Thankfully this has mean't the fireworks are a walk in the park for her - if you can find some exercising areas for the MOD to take your dog it might be worth a try? I just carry on my walk not giving it a second thought and dog has definately got used to the noises over time.

EarthMotherImNot Tue 06-Nov-12 12:09:44

Well last night looked like turning into a total nightmare again. Fireworks started before 5pmshock and we were dreading the rest of the evening.

However she sorted the problem herself by running into the cupboard we keep our coats and shoes etc in. Its a decent size running the length of the stairs and high enough to walk in easily for the tallest of adult. It also has a light which I think helped her also. It's not totally soundproof but it seemd to do the trick. Put a folded fleecy blanket down for her and a couple of doggy treats and she stayed in there until gone 10pm when it went quiet outside and she ventured back out. No shakes at all.

Now if anyone had said "put her in the cupboard" I'd have been horrified but there you gosmile

SpicyPear Tue 06-Nov-12 12:21:01

Aaah that's great news that she went and found her own safe space.

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