To say that my dog Scooter is afraid of fireworks and thunderstorms would be like saying that seagulls like following Bennys onto the beach. It's quite an understatement.

He was legitimately traumatized last week.

Now that New Jersey's fireworks laws are considerably more relaxed than in the past, my neighborhood was considerably noisier than past 4th of July celebrations.

Add that to last Friday's epic thunderstorm over Ocean County, and poor Scoot was not a happy camper.

Justin's dog Scooter
Justin's dog Scooter

I reached out to Scooter's veterinarian, Dr. Adam Christman of Brick Town Veterinary Hospital, and here's what he had to say:

"Noise aversion is a fearful or anxious response to sounds within the environment. It’s what sends dogs cowering under the couch when fireworks burst in the night sky or a car backfires.

You may even notice your dog jumping into the bathtub, hiding in the laundry room closet or burrowing under the bed. The dog is distressed by the noise and wants to get away.

Fireworks, thunder and gun shots are obvious triggers for dogs with noise aversion, but a wide variety of environmental sounds can also be disturbing to dogs—children shrieking, loud TV noises, doors slamming, loud engine noises, and much more.

The best way to handle this is a multimodal approach by discussing a plan with your veterinarian. Oftentimes, medication is needed to help control the sensitivity.

I recommend turning up the radio or television as well as exercising your dog to the point of exhaustion if you can anticipate a noise event (thunderstorm, fireworks, company coming over, etc).

Some natural products such as Solloquin and zylkene have been known to help take your dog from a “10 to a “6” or “7” in terms of stress. Heavier medications include Sileo, alprazolam and fluoxetine. Always ask your veterinarian!"

There are plenty of wearable products to choose from as well. Some people swear by the "Thundershirt", while others have said that in their experience it ends up just being an expensive accessory.

As Dr. Christman says above, always ask your vet. The solution could be simple, like distracting your dog, or could require more serious medical treatment for pups with the worst anxiety and fear.

My thanks as always to Dr. Christman for taking the time to share his thoughts on a problem that many loving pet owners struggle with, especially this time of year!


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