Are your dogs scared of fireworks?

About a fortnight ago I got a nasty shock, we were all sat on the sofa watching TV one evening and six fireworks went off. They weren’t massive but they utterly terrified Doris.
We didn’t know she was afraid of fireworks as we only adopted her in January, after Bonfire night and New Years midnight fireworks.


Fireworks on bonfire night

Fireworks on bonfire night (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


It was very worrying for us seeing her, she was shaking and crying so much she started to struggle breathing, followed by a fluctuating heartbeat. Every little movement or noise got her all worked up again. It was heartbreaking to watch her struggling, there really wasn’t much we could do except stroke her and tell her she was safe. Her panic attack lasted around 2 hours, as an owner with PTSD who has panic attacks I understood her fear.

The next day I phoned our vets for a chat, they reassured me that she was physically healthy and it was all a mental health type of problem. That I should buy over the counter medicines for calming dogs or bring her in to see the vet for something stronger if they agree. I tried her on Freya’s KalmAid but it made very little difference, so I went to the vets in person. Our usual vet wasn’t there, so I got a mini lecture about how my dog really needed pet behaviorist, not medicating her issues away. He didn’t know us, so fair enough really I suppose, but Doris is actually doing so much better than when we adopted her. She almost never cries now, she woofs happily when playing and is much less nervous in public. The dog I see each morning jumping on my bed to either hug me gently or excitedly wag her tail and smile at me is not the terrified hound I took home from the Dogs Trust in January. She’s not fixed, but we are getting there slowly.

What the vet suggested is Doris needed a “den” and Adaptil. He decided that Valium type medicine would be right for some dogs but not her, as it was likely to make her feel a bit nauseous so it would have had side effects strong enough to cancel out its intended effect. Poor little love. It cost me £60 for a few minutes and an Adaptil plugin, I think I should have just gone with my instincts to buy Adaptil but not via our vet. After all I have seen this before in Freya. The Adaptil plugin is working but I definitely over paid this time.

Adaptil tablets

Then a couple of days later contacted me to see if my readers would like a little competition to win some Adaptil tablets, perfect for helping your hound cope with a short term problem you are expecting like fireworks, a loud party or moving house. Are you worried Rex and Rover might not cope with the Firework weekend? Enter the competition quick – it only runs for 4 days to try to make sure they arrive in time .

As for the den, the vet explained he meant a safe and cozy place Doris would choose to go and hide when nervous.
What she has now are old pillows on the floor next to my bed, she prefers to on my bed but it has to be a fixed place so she knows it’s always there. By the pillows she has a couple of my teddies that she normally steals borrows from me, a few dog toys and the plugin is only about 2 ft away. She also has a comfy jumper of mine. My bed is a solid ottoman, and is almost against the wall the window is in, her den is in this gap. Once the curtains are closed she shouldn’t see the lights from fireworks at all. It now means I have to climb in to bed on the wrong side but if it helps it’s worth a try.

Most other dogs would probably choose their own bed or crate as their safe place, but not our Doris. If you are setting up a den include things that smell comforting to your dog, things that smell of you. Stuff like an old jumper or tshirt are ideal because they can nest in it.


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If you re at all worried about your pet, see a vet or professional pet behaviorist for advice. Always read the labels on medication, even for pets.

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Good luck.

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