Nothing can ruin a 4th of July like a noise-phobic dog. You can’t leave your house to enjoy the fireworks because you’ll likely return to a distraught dog and a destroyed couch, and even if you stay home, there’s not much you can do to comfort your pooch from the barrage of bottle rocket shooting neighbors and the window shaking blasts of a big display nearby.
Before you attempt the arduous task of “behavior modification” or desensitization, which basically require you to attempt to divert or suppress your dog’s fear by enticing it with something more pleasant and more evocative, whilst bombarding them with a fireworks/thunder substitute, try Melatonin first.
Melatonin is a natural hormone found in all living things and an antioxidant with little chance of overdose. Unlike the other supplements/drugs which treat mood disorders and noise phobia, Melatonin does not require weeks of daily dosing to reach effective levels in the blood stream. It can be given minutes to hours before a storm/fireworks show and you don’t have to give it again for another year, and for the fastest results it comes in a liquid form which can be dispensed under the tongue. It’s also not a sedative, you won’t have a woozy or knocked out dog as a result.
Studies show that Melatonin is rapidly absorbed and reaches its maximum concentration in the blood between 20 and 30 minutes after dosing and has an elimination half life of 5 hours.
Most every grocery or vitamin store carries it for cheap, so pick up some when you run out for last minute barbecue items for your 4th of July celebration.
And no, I don’t own stock in a Melatonin company, and I’m hardly a pill pusher. I’ve just seen Melatonin work a miracle first hand.
Growing up, I lived less than a mile from a country club that hosted a fireworks display every year that is known for low-shot mortars that burst right overhead, and knock the wind out of you with every burst. The rich know how to party.
The best viewing for this yearly show for those of us who mow our own lawns is the elementary school parking lot half-way between home and the club. If the wind is right, the spent shells of the mortars will actually land in the lot, bringing a cloud of sulfur with them.
The tangible proximity and explosive percussion make for great entertainment, but whether we went to the show or not, the dogs never enjoyed the evening. What started as mild discomfort and hiding–that was easy to overlook or consider problematic–grew each year reaching full blown paranoia and panic.
We didn’t appreciate it how bad the situation had gotten until we returned home to find that Black Jack, whom we had locked safely in the downstairs laundry room, had become so distraught at the noise that he chewed halfway through the hollow core door trying to escape.
Black Jack’s noise phobia was contagious and Bonnie Belle soon began leaving the room when people sneezed or hiding under the table when someone banged the pots pulling them out to cook dinner. These were adult dogs who hadn’t displayed the level of fear they had grown into during their early years.
We found Melatonin and never had an incident again. The first summer both dogs were aware of storms and fireworks, but quickly dropped their fear response, and during the next 4th of July we all watched the fireworks from our back yard without so much as a wimper.
With the current pack of dogs, I’ve used it selectively and prophylactically to cut possible noise phobia before it started, and it even helped me desensitize them to the new doorbell sound.
I reccomend it highly, so ask your veterinarian about it. The all mighty google suggests that an appropriate dose for a small dog is 1/2 to 1 mg and 3 to 9 mg for larger dogs (25lbs+). Published studies showed no ill effects with amounds between 10-80 mg per kg of dog weight, MANY times the levels that appear effective for easing phobias.
Fast, effective, and safe. Do your dog a favor and give it a try. Save your laundry room doors from wanton predation!
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