Monday, June 29, 2015

The Fourth of July!

The Fourth of July, America's Independence Day, is cause for celebration but that celebration can lead to problems for dogs and cats. It's so important to keep them safe.

Picnics and barbecues are fun for the family but be careful of what sorts of food your pets eat. If friends and relatives are likely to feed them from the table, ask them in advance not to do that and keep you dog or cat in another room while food is being served. The last thing you want is a visit to the Emergency clinic with a sick pet.

The biggest problem of the holiday is the fireworks. If they sound loud to us, imagine how they must sound to dogs and cats whose hearing is so much more sensitive than ours!  If you're going to an outdoor fireworks display, please leave your pet safely at home. Being that close to the sound is even more frightening for sensitive ears and your pet is liable to bolt and run our of fear, no matter how well-mannered he is. To be sure that your pet is protected, he or she should be wearing a name tag as well as be microchipped. Don't forget to register the microchip. It does no good if a veterinarian or shelter reads the chip and can't find the owner. Do not leave pets outside. Keep them safely indoors!
Photo:  ThunderShirt

Even inside your home, the sound of fireworks from public displays in the area, or neighbors who insist upon setting off their own, is very upsetting to most dogs and cats. They often hide in the bathroom, behind the toilet if they can fit.  And they shake from fear.  Some are so afraid that they will bolt out of the house.

Do not be afraid to reassure your pet and try to distract him, although that's not always possible. You certainly should not yell at them. They're already frightened. There's never a need to yell. Being wrapped in something snug can make your dog or cat feel more secure.  I often recommend ThunderShirt, which is available for dogs and cats in a variety of sizes. It fits snugly and makes the pet feel secure, rather like a baby swaddled in a blanket. It provides gentle pressure. (It's also a nice solution for cats who are afraid to go to the veterinarian.)

Other such products include the AnxietyWrap and Storm Defender, the latter is a cape for dogs with a  special lining. 

If your pet exhibits more severe symptoms like excessive shaking, not eating, a lot of salivating or even incontinence, speak to your veterinarian about medication. You do not want to use Acepromazine, which will only make the pet sleepy but will not impact anxiety, in fact, they can come out of it even more fearful. Benedryl isn't a good idea, either. It may make your dog sleepy but he's still going to be upset and anxious. Better medications are available from your veterinarian to address the problem.

Photo: ThunderShirt
You can also try desensitizing your pet to the sound. Not just fireworks, but thunder as well if your pet has thunder phobia.  There are a number of places on the internet where you can find recordings of thunder or fireworks that you can play for your pet to slowly accustom him to the sound. 

The Fourth of July doesn't have to be a nightmare for your pet if you are prepared to help keep your pet calm.  Happy Independence Day!!


Gordon Brice said...

Even though we in the UK will not be celebrating "The Fourth of July", for obvious reasons ;), this is useful information for anyone celebrating a special occasion, with a barbecue and fireworks. Such occasions can be traumatic for our pets, if precautions are not taken. You have as always, offered excellent advice, Darlene and I hope this blog will be seen by many people AND the advice adhered to.

Darlene said...

Thank you. I know that you also have holidays with fireworks in the UK. It's so important to keep our pets safe but some people don't think about the stress involved for our pets.

Rescuegal said...

Good information, Darlene Arden. Unless you have had an animal that acts adversely to loud noises, you may not think about the dangers to your pet under these circumstances. It is heartbreaking to watch your beloved pet be so anxious and fearful. Anything you can do to make it better for them, in turn makes it better for you. As always, you offer many good suggestions. Thank you.