*Disclaimer: This article is not meant to serve as a substitute for veterinary advice. Dr.Hempdog believes firmly in the contents of this article because of the thorough research that backs it up and our own experiences with the thousands of dogs that we have helped through the years (including our own). You should always defer to your veterinarian when adding anything to your dog's unique wellness routine.
Studies show that over 50% of all dogs have a fear of fireworks, and with practically 100% of neighborhoods in the United States celebrating the Fourth of July, chances are this may be an issue in your household. While avoiding fireworks may be difficult, there are numerous things you can do to reduce the stress and anxiety your dog feels around firework sounds/vibrations, so we’ve compiled all of our best information and wisdom here as a convenient resource.
How to Alleviate Firework Anxiety
It’s best to prepare for fireworks before they even begin; however, if you’ve been caught off guard, there are still plenty of things you can do to help your dog calm down. We find that you can effectively relieve firework anxiety by using any of the following:
- Pressure Wraps / Thunder Shirts
- Massage Therapy
- Calming Audio
- Games and Toys
- If You Have Time to Prepare:
- Earlier Schedules
- Safe Spaces
- Desensitization (this is an advanced tactic that isn’t for everyone)
*Bonus Tip: These same strategies tend to work well for thunder and other noise-related anxieties too.
Of course, every dog is unique, so you may need to experiment to find the most effective option. Below, we’ll provide some advice for these approaches and explain each of them in further detail.
Numerous studies (and our customers’ experiences) show that CBD and other cannabinoids can be a powerful tool for alleviating fireworks-based anxiety, which we discuss in further detail in our article about the benefits of CBD. Here’s a quick dosing reference for our product:
- For Dr.Hempdog, we recommend giving your dog 1 to 2 mg of CBD per ten pounds of weight, approximately an hour before fireworks begin.
Pressure Wraps / Thunder Shirts
Pressure wraps, more commonly known as “thunder shirts,” can provide constant, firm pressure to your dog’s torso, simulating a gentle hug. Many people report having great success using these for mild to moderate cases of firework anxiety, though some dogs are more responsive to the pressure than others.
- If you’re looking for a reputable, affordable pressure wrap, we recommend buying a Thundershirt or Anxiety Wrap.
- The DIY Approach: If you’re not in the market for new products, you can create a simple pressure wrap at home by following this guide.
Giving your dog a relaxing massage is a great way to help them unwind, and also provides physical support and reassurance. Use common sense, and make sure to be calm, gentle, and attentive to their reactions.
- While you can certainly perform a massage without any training, there are numerous good guides out there on the subject. For beginners, we recommend consulting this article from the AKC. If you’re looking for more advanced tips, check out this resource from rover.com instead.
Playing white noise, classical music, nature sounds, or other relaxing audio can be a good way to suppress the sound of fireworks. You may have to experiment a bit; some dogs prefer “household activity” sounds like TV or a whirring fan, whereas others might enjoy more specialized tracks, such as classical music.
- DogTV is a great premium service for finding these types of videos and audio; alternatively, YouTube can be a good, free resource as well.
Many people have success using calming supplements like chamomile, lavender, valerian root, and melatonin to help their dog through the evening. Check with your vet before making any alterations to your dog’s diet and supplementation routine.
Giving your dog their favorite treat can be a highly effective way to distract them and give them something positive to focus on, especially when used alongside some of the other options discussed in this article.
- If you’re looking for a good treat, try raw, frozen marrow bones, which can last for a while and are great for canine health.
Games and Toys
Engaging and distracting your dog with games and toys can take their mind off of fireworks, while also stimulating and tiring them out. The effectiveness of this can vary from dog to dog, so you may need to experiment. If you’re looking for ideas, check out this article covering good games to play with your dog.
When anticipating a stressful evening, it’s often helpful to shift your dog’s schedule up to get things done earlier in the day. This can not only encourage your dog to settle down in the evening but can also ensure that fear doesn’t get in the way of important activities for your dog’s health (like using the restroom or eating). Try taking your dog for a long walk or giving them a full dose of exercise before fireworks begin, as they’ll have an easier time relaxing when they’re tired out.
Consider dedicating a comfortable, quiet place in your house to your dog’s relaxation, creating a “sanctuary” for them to retreat to. Wherever you choose, make sure it’s well-insulated from noise and vibrations (such as a closet, interior room, basement, or bathtub), and try putting some of your dog’s favorite toys or treats there too. Note that some dogs might prefer somewhere that’s less isolated or closer to the family, so be willing to adapt.
In many cases, it’s possible to reduce (or eliminate) your dog’s fear of fireworks by carefully exposing them to firework sounds in a controlled environment. To do this, play a recording of fireworks at a low volume, quiet enough to avoid stressing them out, but loud enough that they can still hear it. Combine this with plenty of positive reinforcement and treats, and your dog may slowly start to get comfortable with the sound.
Note that this should be done very carefully. If your dog starts displaying signs of anxiety or stress, stop and give them plenty of praise. Similarly, if your dog has a severe negative reaction to this tactic be wary of continuing; obviously, you don’t want to exacerbate their firework anxiety. If all goes well, you can switch up the recordings and increase the volume over time to better simulate the sounds of real fireworks.
Managing fireworks-based anxiety can be a complex, multi-step process, but using the tactics we’ve shared above should hopefully help to turn the Fourth of July into an easy evening, rather than a difficult one.
For more detailed information (or advice about other types of anxiety disorders, including chronic issues), please consult our extremely useful article about recognizing and treating anxiety in dogs and what you can do about it.If you have any questions about how to use Dr.Hempdog’s CBD products effectively for your dog’s firework anxiety, we encourage you to reach out to us and schedule a free, 15-minute consultation by visiting our website, contacting us at (720) 773-9595, or sending us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.