Helping pets adjust during firework season

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LINCOLN, Neb. -- Many have likely already heard the booms, crackles and pops. Firework stands are springing up around Nebraska. For pets, the anxiety has started, too.

As people are out celebrating the Fourth of July, it can be a nightmare for animals, especially dogs. Vets say some pups have noise phobia, and the sounds of fireworks can bring on panic attacks.

For one Lincoln woman, it's a challenge she faces every July.

"It's real uncomfortable for them," Charlene Wendt said.

Wendt's two dogs, Sidney and Sterling, love the outdoors. That changes as soon as a firework booms.

"They run to the door to get in right away and you can't walk them or anything because they just won't go," Wendt said.

It's a common thing among dogs. The unfamiliar noises of fireworks can bring on panic.

"First thing I try to talk about is, is all anxiety is best dealt with if you can avoid it," Veterinarian at Nebraska Animal Medical Center Dr. Chad Cosgrove said.

"We have to take them out to the outskirts of Lincoln to a quiet area and walk them along ditches and things," Wendt said.

However, that's not an option for all pet owners.

"When July first gets here, it'll be phone call after phone call, 'I need my drugs,'" Dr. Cosgrove said.

He also said the most common way pet owners deal with firework fear is a sedative, but it's not an instant fix.

"Get your medications, get them started [on] the first," Dr. Cosgrove said. "I'm usually dosing those dogs every 8 to 12 hours with their medications all the way through the fourth of July."

"I think it might help a little bit, but they're still pretty nervous," Wendt said. "Of course, I don't want to drug them up completely."

When it comes to lighting fireworks, Wendt said she hopes people follow the law and respect others.

"I'm not against the fourth of July, I just care for my pets and want other people to realize what they go through as we try to celebrate."

Anyone worried about the drugs' side effects should talk to their vet. Meanwhile, Dr. Cosgrove said other fixes for pets' anxiety can include thunder coats or supplements.

He said pet owners should stay home with their animals to make sure they're able to relax.