Is your dog afraid of fireworks?

 by Deanna Tolliver, DVM

For many dogs, and their owners, the worst day of the year is coming up: the Fourth of July.

Not because of what it represents, of course, but because of how it’s celebrated in most of the country: the dreaded fireworks.

Many dogs (cats, not so much) are quite fearful of loud noises. For some, it’s fireworks, but for others the fear can also be triggered by thunder, vehicle backfires and construction noise.  The technical name for this condition is noise aversion. It can be almost debilitating for some dogs. The symptoms can include:

• crying
• panting
• pacing
• hiding
• trembling

Some dogs, no matter how big they may be, want to get as close to their owners as possible and try to stay on their laps. A little difficult when your dog weighs 80 pounds!

Many dogs become more fearful of loud noises as they get older. My 13-year-old Chihuahua just started getting rattled by loud noises about a year ago. She shakes and tries to hide when she hears thunder or fireworks.

Well … I don’t have a miracle drug to offer you, but there IS a new medication on the market that may help your dog. It’s called Sileo. It’s an oro-mucosal drug, meaning you apply it to the dog’s gums. You should try to administer it 30-60 minutes before needed, and it can last two to three hours.

If it helps with fireworks, try using it for thunder and at other times when your dog is fearful of noises. Some anecdotal information suggests it may also help with other anxieties, such as traveling. 

The drug’s manufacturer, Zoetis, claims that Sileo will calm your dog without sedating it. This IS a prescription drug, so you will need to contact your veterinarian to buy it. Here’s the Sileo website where you can find more information.

I’m curious to see if it helps your dog. Please let me know! (By the way, I am not associated with Zoetis in any way.)

##RVT852

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11 Thoughts to “Is your dog afraid of fireworks?”

  1. Marilyn R.

    Our 2 dogs are fine with loud noises so far (5 and 3 1/2 yrs old) but friends have 2 dogs that are terrified. Their Vet told of an OTC called Remedy (available on Amazon) – they swear by for their girls.

  2. Scott

    We tried Sileo last year and liked it, so we got a new prescription for this year.

    Our dog is a 50lb mixed breed with a STRONG reaction to noises (fireworks, car doors, chopping wood, thunder…). We also use a prescription pill from our vet for the 4th.

    We feel Silea works faster and disappears quicker than pills, so we use it when that bad thunder storm pops up, for example, and she’s back to normal in a few hours.

    By the way, the dog dislikes it, a lot. We’re not sure if it’s the taste or us messing with her mouth. Also, if she spits some out or if we spill, it turns her coat (white/tan) to a dark green.

  3. Janice S Kibbe

    It is nice that people are concerned about pets that may fear fireworks but please consider your neighbors who may have served in battle zones and have PTSD too.

  4. Jillie

    Channel 4 News in Detroit just mentioned this last nite. I have one that is terrified, one that wishes they would go away and the other is like take or leave it. This vet is the one who discovered it. He says it works. I need to get to the vet to get some. Xanax is what we use on the one who will run thru a window to get away from it. Good to hear you are recommending this.

  5. Rob

    We give our dog CBD biscuits, she calms right down. She also has a thunder shirt which clings tightly to her body which helps. We also turn the TV up or radio up so the thunder sounds aren’t as loud. I would rather give her something natural like Cannabis than any man-made pharma drugs.

    1. Dr. Deanna

      Hi Rob,
      I agree with you on trying other things besides drugs first. I covered those in a column several weeks ago. Glad to hear the CBD oil helps your dog. That was the topic of my column two weeks ago. I’ve started one of my dogs on it for pain, but haven’t really noticed any positive results yet.

  6. Ruth Blum

    I’ve been using Sileo for 1 year with so-so success. My 65 lb golden retriever has very severe reactions to thunder and fireworks. Because Sileo is so strong, only a 2 week window on opened meds, and the cost I’ve actually gone back to using Benadryl for many storms. Nothing really works very well, I wish something did as there is nothing worse than a panicked dog in the middle of a thunderstorm in a trailer.

    1. Deanna

      Hi Ruth,
      Sorry to hear it hasn’t helped your big guy so much. I’m guessing you’ve tried a lot of different things, but If you haven’t tried any other meds, ask your vet for sedatives.

      1. Ruth blum

        Tried those too to no avail, she doesn’t mind wearing a thunder shirt but it doesn’t help! Just a poor frightened dog.

  7. Dr. Deanna

    Hi Dave,
    Great observation. I have friends who totally agree with you.

  8. Dave

    As a Veteran, I changed one word in this article. I changed dog to Vet and it’s about the same article. Neither one of us like Fireworks, but I guess he would be the only one qualified for the meds

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