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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 28548
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience.
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Dog is a stafford about 2yrs male terrified of fireworks will

Customer Question

dog is a stafford about 2yrs male terrified of fireworks will not go out after dark needs some thing to calm its nerves
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.
I'm sorry that your question wasn't answered in a timely manner. Poor Sam! Many noise phobias can be managed successfully with behavioral modification. The prognosis varies greatly depending on the individual, the duration of the phobia, the ability to control strong stimuli during treatment, and the success in finding an effective, controllable artificial stimulus to use during exposure exercises.Successful treatment of fireworks phobias using only behavioral modification can be very difficult because of the presence of multiple stimuli, difficulty producing effective artificial fireworks noises for desensitization, and inability to control naturally occurring stimuli during therapy. If you're home with Sam when fireworks are being used, it may be helpful to distract him and then have a "fireworks party". When he begins to show mild anxiety, you should ignore him and make an unusual noise (squeaker, whistle, tap table top, crinkle paper, clicker, e.g.) so he orients to the new sound and stops acting anxious. After about 10 seconds or more, but before he begins acting anxious again, you should jump up, run to the kitchen, and grab a handful of meat or cheese treats. Next, you should run through the house acting very animated, saying happy things loudly in an upbeat tone and tossing food about for Sam to eat. Unless the fireworks becomes strong enough to make him fearful and take his focus away from you and the food, the "party" will serve as a counterconditioning session.As for anxiolytic drugs...the benzodiazepines** (alprazolam, chlorazepam, lorazepam, e.g.) and tricyclic antidepressants (e.g. clomipramine and amitriptyline) may be helpful for difficult cases. The benzodiazepines are the best choice to use on an as-needed basis, and alprazolam (Xanax) may prove to be the most potent for panic-type responses, although its duration of effect may only be a couple of hours. Tricyclic antidepressants may take several weeks or more to become effective and are probably best reserved for chronic problems. A dose of benzodiazepine may also be added to the tricyclics on an as-needed bases an hour or two before a storm is expected. Other options are the use of D.A.P. (Adaptil/Dog Appeasing Pheromone), buspirone, or a phenothiazine tranquilizer (Acepromazine) given 1-3 hours prior to an anticipated storm (which doesn't reduce anxiety but may be sufficiently sedating to avoid the problem entirely).Nevermind others who think you look silly running around the house throwing food about. Tell them you don't care what you look like. It's for Sam's sake. **Please note that the UK has restricted the use of many benzodiazepines. Please ask Sam's vet which is still available for Sam. There isn't anything available over the counter potent enough for your purposes.
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Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your kind accept. I appreciate it.
I can't set a follow up in this venue and so would appreciate your returning to our conversation with an update at your convenience.