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Medication for dogs during fireworks and when to use it

I used to believe prescription medication for dogs during fireworks should be given as a last resort. But that was because I did not have a dog who was afraid of fireworks.

I give my weimaraner Remy a prescription anti anxiety medication before fireworks begin every 4th of July and New Year’s Eve. This is no big deal and helps him hunker down in his indoor kennel.

If you think your dog may benefit from anxiety medication during fireworks or thunderstorms, I recommend you talk with a veterinarian to discuss all your options.

It’s also a good idea to get a second opinion because some anti-anxiety medications for dogs are controversial. We’re lucky to have so many options these days, and I will go over many of them in this article.

*Get my tips on how to help a dog who’s scared of fireworks. Click Here.

Medication for dogs during fireworks

In this post:

What can I give my dog for fireworks anxiety?

If you’re trying to help your dog overcome a fear of fireworks, you’ve probably tried all of these options:

Rescue Remedy

All of the above are great but I want to focus on medications for dogs during fireworks or thunderstorms when other options are not helping enough.

If you have ever given medication to your fearful dog, please share your experience (good or bad) in the comments if you think it will help others.

Before you medicate your dog, consider this

1. Does your dog stress during even minor storms?

2. Does that stress ever cause your dog to “dig,” damage property, pace, try to escape or frantically crawl onto you?

3. Is your dog’s behavior during storms or fireworks getting worse and worse every time?

4. Is your dog hurting herself such as chewing her fur, wearing down her nails or cutting herself as she claws at the door or her kennel?

If you answered yes to these, especially that last one, then medication is something to look into.

Over the counter medications for dogs during fireworks – Benadryl & Dramamine

First, let’s look at over the counter options.

Before she prescribes medications to fearful dogs, Dr. Danel Grimmett, a veterinarian with Sunset Veterinary Clinic in Edmond, Okla., encourages dog owners to try non-prescription medication such as Benadryl.

Over the counter medications for dogs during fireworks

“Benadryl or Dramamine can gently calm a pet with mild to moderate storm anxiety if the administration is supervised by their family veterinarian,” Grimmett said.

These over the counter medications are often used to combat car anxiety or motion sickness as well, she said.

See my post: Can Benadryl help a dog during fireworks?

I have given Benadryl to my dog Ace for travel anxiety and to foster dogs for separation anxiety, and I do believe it helped calm them.

I’m not sure that it actually eased their anxiety, but it at least made them drowsy and therefore less likely to bark and whine.

Benadryl for dogs dosage

If you decide to give Benadryl or Dramamine (Dimenhydrinate) to calm your dog, make sure to contact a veterinarian first for the proper dose.

Weight is not the only factor in determining the proper dose because dogs process some medications differently than we do.

The general dosage of Benadryl for dogs is 1mg per pound of body weight 2-3 times per day but it’s best to consult with your vet first.

*Get my tips on how to help a dog who’s scared of fireworks. Click Here.

Prescription medications for calming a dog during fireworks

Ace the black Lab mix with his ball

Is there anxiety medication for dogs during fireworks?

Below, am going to cover more than 10 different prescription medication options for a dog’s anxiety.

These include:

  • Acepromazine
  • Diazepam (Valium)
  • Trazodone
  • Sileo
  • Xanax
  • Prozac
  • Clomicalm (Clomipramine)

It’s up to you and your vet to decide which option is best for your specific dog.

Make sure to ask your dog’s vet several questions about anti anxiety medication such as:

  • What are the side effects of the drug you are recommending?
  • How far in advance do I need to give this to my dog in order for it to be effective? (One hour? Several hours?)
  • Will the drug actually decrease my dog’s fear or will it just leave her immobile (and still afraid)?
  • How long will it work?
  • How does the anti anxiety medication work?
  • What is the cost?
  • Are there any other options you can suggest?
  • Does this medication need to be given every day or just during “the event”?

Grimmett said she does prescribe medications to fearful dogs in certain situations if other options have not helped.

“Pets with extreme storm anxiety can hurt themselves, damage their environment and possibly act out toward their owners,” she said.

“If all other options have been exhausted, then I will turn to prescription medications.”

Any of you who have very fearful dogs know what she is talking about.

For example, my parents’ golden retriever Elsie would sometimes paw at her indoor kennel to try to escape during fireworks. She injured her paws while doing so.

Medication for dogs during fireworks

I have also had foster dogs that succeeded in breaking out of their kennels due to their fears of being alone.

One of these dogs then proceeded to begin tearing apart my door while I was at work.

There are many different options available as far as prescription medications for calming fearful dogs.

Make sure to do your own research and discuss all options with your dog’s vet if you decide to go this route.

Two of the medications Grimmett said she will sometimes prescribe for dogs with anxiety around fireworks include Acepromazine and Diazepam.

Medication for dogs during fireworks

Acepromazine tranquilizer for dogs scared of fireworks or thunder

Some prescription medications for dogs are classified as tranquilizers.

Acepromazine is a cost-effective prescription medication classified as a tranquilizer, according to Grimmett. She said it should always be administered under the direct supervision of a veterinarian.  

“This drug is very effective and very powerful,” she said. 

“Therefore in our practice, we insist on the pet being kept indoors in a temperature-controlled, confined area with constant supervision.”

The drug works by modifying the chemicals in the pet’s brain to change its behavior, according to 1-800-PetMeds®, which sells Acepromazine.

None of the drugs most commonly used in reducing a dog’s fear of fireworks have actually been proven to work in relieving that fear, according to PetMeds. The drugs also have possible side effects such as lethargy and sedation.

For example, the company said Acepromazine could “sensitize your dog to sound, potentially making the problem worse.”

This doesn’t mean dogs should not be given tranquilizers during fireworks or thunder. It just means each dog owner needs to ask the right questions and make the best choice for his own dog.

Diazepam sedative for dogs scared of fireworks or thunderstorms

Diazepam (Valium) is a sedative and muscle relaxer, according to Grimmett. She said it is an effective and safe sedative in treating a dog’s storm anxiety.

However, it is a controlled drug and requires registration with the Drug Enforcement Administration whenever it is prescribed.

Trazodone for dogs during fireworks

My weimaraner Remy takes a sedative called Trazodone before fireworks begin on the Fourth of July and on New Year’s Eve. We have a LOT of fireworks in our town on these holidays.

Our vet said to give Remy Trazodone about an hour before the fireworks begin. This has helped Remy hunker down and try to go to sleep in his kennel while the fireworks are going on for several hours.

Trazodone is an anti anxiety medication that is also used for dogs with separation anxiety or travel anxiety.

Sileo for dog’s anxiety around fireworks

Sileo is marketed as an effective drug that helps dogs with noise aversion without the side effect of sedation, according to 1800PetMeds, which sells the product.

You give the dog Sileo orally with a syringe and it requires a prescription for a vet. Sileo is effective for up to 3 hours, according to PetMeds.

It is the first FDA-approved treatment for dogs who suffer from noise phobias or anxiety.

You should also be aware that in June 2018 the FDA released an advisory that from May 2016 through May 2018, it received 54 adverse event reports involving Sileo overdoses in dogs.

These overdoses were the result of the product’s ring-stop mechanism not properly locking at the intended dose, according to their advisory.

Xanax for dogs fireworks anxiety

Alprazolam is a sedative used to treat anxiety in dogs, according to VCA Animal Hospitals. It goes by the brand name Xanax.

You give this medication to your dog in a pill or liquid format, and side effects may include sedation or difficulty balancing.

Since this is an “extra label” drug that is used in veterinary medicine, you want to get the proper dosing from your dog’s vet. Do not go by the label because the dosage on the label is for humans. Dogs require a different dosage of Xanax than people.

Prozac for dogs during fireworks

Prozac is an option for dogs that live with day-to-day anxiety. It is an anti-depressant and is less sedating than tranquilizers. The generic name for Prozac is fluoxetine.

It’s generally not recommended for one-off “events” like fireworks and thunder because it’s a medication that needs to be given daily. It can be helpful for fireworks if your dog is also facing other fears and anxiety every day (which many are). Separation anxiety, for example.

My vet suggested we could look into Prozac for my dog’s noise phobias in agility because he is no longer able to compete due to his fears. I ultimately decided to retire him from agility rather than put him on a daily medication.

Clomicalm for a dog’s fireworks anxiety (Clomipramine)

Clomicalm is another anti-depressant medication that is non-sedating and used to treat general anxiety in dogs such as separation anxiety, according to VCA. It is also used to help treat aggression in some dogs.

If your dog has general anxiety in addition to her fear of fireworks, this might be a good option to discuss with her vet.

What can I give my dog for storm anxiety?

You can use any of the dog anxiety medications or products we have mentioned to help your dog with storm anxiety just as you would with fireworks anxiety. It is the same concept.

Options include:

  • Over the counter medication like Benadryl
  • Prescription dog tranquilizers like Acepromazine
  • Natural calming remedies like Rescue Remedy or ADAPTIL

One challenge with thunderstorms (depending on where you live) is that they are a bit more unpredictable compared to fireworks. For example, you might be gone for work and a thunderstorm rolls through late morning while your dog is home alone.

For some people, it’s helpful to put a Thundershirt on their dog whenever the dog is home alone in the summer months. This might help a dog with mild storm anxiety.

If you know a storm is likely to roll through, you could also give your dog Benadryl or a prescription sedative before the storm begins.

Talk to your dog’s vet about the right anxiety medication option for your dog

The above are just a few of the many prescription options available for calming a fearful or anxious dogs.

There are other options for calming a dog not even mentioned here, and your dog’s vet will be able to help you sort through all the options for your unique dog.

*Get my tips on how to help a dog who’s scared of fireworks. Click Here.

Have you ever given your dog medication for anxiety issues?

In the comments, let us know what worked or didn’t work to calm your dog during fireworks.

Medication for dogs during fireworks

Related posts:

Does the Thundershirt really work?

What do do if a dog is scared of Thunderstorms?

Does Rescue Remedy really work?

Adaptil for dogs scared of fireworks

UPDATE: We were recently sent a new product that we’re hoping will help Raven this year with her firework anxiety. Native Pet sent us Native Pet Calm – Dog Calming Chews. We’re going to test them out this year and report back to you.

How To Help A Dog Scared Of Fireworks | RV Lifestyle

Tuesday 30th of May 2023

[…] Several readers of who have tried all of these tips with no luck suggested medications or Benadryl for dogs during fireworks and when to use them. […]


Thursday 1st of July 2021

Lady is my 12 year old miniature schnauzer. She is terrified of fireworks. She will bark, shiver and pant hard and comes running to me when she hears them. I tried Benadryl with her last year it calmed her down a little but she still shivered. I have tried a Thundershirt with her and it did not help her at all. I found a product put out by NaturVet called Quiet Moments Calming Aid. I have given this to Lady around the time the sun sets and it has calmed down her. It is made from natural products and has a 100% money back guarantee.

Lindsay Stordahl

Thursday 1st of July 2021

Thank you for that suggestion.

Ronnie H

Wednesday 1st of July 2020

I tried Benedryl years ago during 4th of July for my Lab, but she was drowsy and lethargic for days. She is now 12 yrs old and gets anxious, panting, drooling and hides under the chair when the fireworks begin to pop. NOW we give her a few drops of CBD OIL and she is calm and lies down and gets through the holiday with no after effects. By the way, we also give her a few drops every day and it gives her much relief from her arthritic hind legs which are stiff and hard to move. There are no side effects. There is Veterinary grade CBD Oil and also regular (people kind). The Vet grade is twice the price. She and I now both take it in the morning for our arthritis. I checked with the vet and she had no a matter of fact she has vet products on her shelf that contain CBD.

Victoria Scheerbaum

Saturday 20th of June 2020

My 9 yr old Olde English Bulldogge has Addison’s Disease and Stress can be life threatening. She is terrified of fireworks. Our vet gave us a product called Sileo. It is for noise aversion in dogs. It seems to work well enough. It is prescription. Check it out. Hope it helps some scared dogs.

Gretchen Hayward

Thursday 20th of June 2019

I have a Pitbull that is scared of everything unfortunately! I have tried several things to help her. My vet suggested a product called Composure. I give this to her during thunderstorms, but fireworks are a whole different ballgame! I do have to sedate her as she is a wreck without it. It is a very small dose, but it does the trick for her.


Monday 3rd of July 2023

Just editing to add, my vet says Ativan won't help. So I am starting with half a 50mg Trazidone (The vet said up to 200mg of Trazidone is ok for a 60lb dog but going to start low on a pre-trial run tonight before tomorrow) in combination with a 300mg gabapentin capsule.


Monday 3rd of July 2023

@Mírala, @Gretchen Hayward

Hello I also have a 55lb pit bull who is beyond terrified of those loud booms (cherry bombs?) that sound like explosions that the kids like to toss around in our empty parking lots. She pants and paces and its awful watching her shiver. I give her a quarter of a 1MG Ativan before the fireworks start. Once they get going, I'll give her another quarter. Never exceed more than 1MG for a 40+ dog within the 8-12 hours. And please talk to your vet before you medicate. Good luck, we're all dreading tomorrow.


Thursday 16th of June 2022

@Gretchen Hayward, I have a dog that is terrible terrified last year on 4th of July she barked all night long none stop! Can you tell me what medicine works for your baby so I can talk to the vet about it? Thanks