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Worried about New Year's Eve. Do sedatives for fireworks work?

(5 Posts)
gymmummy64 Tue 18-Dec-12 17:29:46

Nov 5th was pretty grim round our way plus the days before and after, but Diwali was absolutely awful. Our new dog barked pretty much non-stop for FIVE HOURS, I kid you not. We live round the corner from a Temple and very close to Southall which is a big centre for Diwali celebrations.

We had tried to be prepared for Diwali and had bought an extra big kong, lots of treats and peanut butter which he loves and is long-lasting plus a plug-in diffuser. Plus we had TV on loud, all curtains drawn etc. The kong did have a passing effect, but we couldn't feed him for 5 hours! The expensive diffuser did absolutely nothing. I haven't tried a thundervest as although the blurb all looks good, it only seems to work for around 50% of animals.

Our dog may well never have heard fireworks before and I swear he became distinctly barkier and quicker to react to sounds out in the street, slower to calm down etc. We've not had fireworks for a while now so things are easing off a bit but I am positively dreading new year's eve - for both his sake and for my own and the neighbours' sanity.

I spoke to the vet and she said she would get a 'natural' sedative for him. Will this actually work? And are there any downsides? I'm also wondering if 'natural' actually means 'ineffective' - I've certainly never found the Kalms type natural sedatives to have any useful effect on me!

Scuttlebutter Tue 18-Dec-12 17:58:36

You've got several options. Your first port of call should be here which is the BSAVA's own policy guidance on firework phobia and gives a really useful overview of options to discuss with your vet.

What I think is really important though is one of the points raised which is that the sheer volume of many modern fireworks means that dogs are exposed to a decibel level that they describe as "an intolerably intense sound stimulus". I think one thing you may wish to consider is actually physically removing your dog from your home area if you think firework noise is likely to be very heavy. If you have a close relative who lives somewhere quiet, would they be willing to dogsit for a night? Alternatively could you find a kennel in a quiet rural location, where your dog could enjoy a stress free start to the new year? One of my greyhound friends lived very close to the Olympic Stadium and she very wisely made sure her dog was kennelled for the opening and closing ceremonies and all the associated whizzbangs - he was very happy and completely stressfree. She said that the level of noise would have been intolerable for him, if he'd stayed at home.

We personally had a firework phobic older greyhound bitch (now no longer with us sad). She was helped enormously by our vet prescribing a small dose of Valium for the worst nights. But we also went away for a couple of Nov 5th - and staying away from home in a quiet rural area was brilliant.

poachedeggs Tue 18-Dec-12 19:19:11

This is totally treatable, but it's too late to do more than firefight the issues you will face over new year.

Get to your vet and ask for a benzodiazepine such as diazepam. You will need to have a couple of dry runs before the night itself so that you can work out what dose is best. Make sure they don't try to give you a drug called ACP, this will make the phobia worse. Benzodiazepines alleviate anxiety and also have amnesic effects so they are excellent in nose phobias, while ACP simply makes the animal look sleepy and does nothing for the fear.

One you're over New Year talk to your vet or a behaviour counsellor (google APBC to find a reputable one) and get guidance to help you counter condition and desensitize your dog. It takes commitment and time but can be achieved.

Also, big loose wads of cotton wool in his ears! Zylkene is a natural remedy some people find helpful.

PartridgeInASpicyPearTree Tue 18-Dec-12 22:47:34

SpicyDog has very severe noise phobia that is only improving very slightly and very slowly with counter-conditioning so I've looked into all possibilities. I've tried Zylkene/DAP etc with no success. The only natural remedy that helps her is a valerian based plug in and spray called Pet Remedy.

We then use Xanax, a benzo, on nights we know they will happen. We are in London too and I would be love to take her away but it was almost every night for two whole months so but even slightly feasible!

Also, does your dog have a crate or other safe spot to go to when they happen? We've found this important in keeping her calm.

1MitchellMum Wed 19-Dec-12 08:40:47

I use Zylkene. I had it in for one dog, but on fireworks night it was like a war zone so gave it to both dogs and it worked instantly. That's not to say it works for all dogs of course. Mine were OK years ago but at 9 and 10 years old they're more sensitive. Good luck - horrible seeing frightened dogs in their own homes.

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