It’s not that Wilson isn’t patriotic; he just doesn’t care for fireworks.
In fact, the eight-year-old German Boxer becomes absolutely terrified on Canada Day, May 2-4 weekend and every other holiday involving explosive noise.
Sarnia retiree Ron Spurr, Wilson’s owners, says his normally happy dog has a complete meltdown whenever fireworks lights up the sky, a condition the panic-stricken pooch must endure for the duration of the event.
“He trembles and pants for two to two-and-a-half hours,” Spurr said, adding he knows of other dogs that “just go crazy.
“One thing for sure is, they react badly.”
Troubled by his pet’s distress, Spurr decided to get Wilson help and went to see Dr. Jim Stirling, a veterinarian at Sarnia Animal Hospital.
The anti-panic plan he came up with involved the use of natural zylkene pills, which are taken three days prior to the fireworks and one an hour before the event. A special pheromone spray was also used.
The combination worked well and provided some relief, at least for a few years.
Spurr said the vet had to bump up Wilson’s treatment, however. He gave him to a pheromone-infused collar, which can be prescribed for up to a month, along with a prescription for diazepam, a drug used in humans for anxiety and muscle spasms.
With the summer festival season fast approaching, Spurr said he hopes to get the word out that help is available for pets that lose it when the booms and bangs begin.
“It’s not that I don’t like fireworks,” Spurr said. “I was a kid and I liked them too. But they can be hard on the dogs.”
But some people no longer restrict fireworks to public holiday. And there’s little owners can do when people randomly set off bangers and firecrackers in the backyard, he said.
Dogs hear more acutely than humans, and fireworks can evoke a reaction similar to the startle response in humans.
Animal behavourists also recommend conditioning dogs to loud sounds at an early age, and playing the recorded sound of fireworks at an increasingly louder volume.
Other tricks include swaddling in calming wraps and providing a special area in the home where Rover can feel safe.