Wednesday, July 2, 2014

4th of July - A dog's worst nightmare

The Independence day holiday is an exciting summer ritual for families.  Warm weather, outdoor cooking, family gatherings and to cap it all off, fireworks.  What could be better, right?  The family dog does not think so.  The weeks leading up to the fourth and the dreaded day itself brings fear and panic to many family dogs.  The loud fireworks are insulting to the dog's sensitive ears and the company coming and going, is a canine nightmare.  There are some things that you can do to help your pet cope with the holiday.

Don't take your pet to a public fireworks event.  You may think that your pet wants to be involved in the family celebration, however a crowded, hot and noisy event will not be enjoyable to your dog.

Be sure that your pet has proper identification in the event that they escape during the stressful fireworks.  A well fitting collar with an ID tag and a microchip should be in place.  Also, check the yard and secure the fences and gate so that your pet can not escape if he gets startled.  Don't leave your pet outside after dark when the fireworks will be in full display.  Try to get them out before hand so that they can stay safely inside during the noise of the celebration.   Create a safe place for your pet to hide indoors if they are fearful.  A place in the center of the home with a dog bed or crate may make the dog feel safer.  Having music or a TV playing in the evenings with the fireworks are booming may help distract from the sounds outside.  You can also engage your dog in play to keep their minds off of the sounds outside.

Exercise will help your pet diffuse some of the fear energy that they build up.  Take your pet on a long walk  in the late afternoon and get them very tired.  It will help them cope with the stress of the evening.  

If you have a fearful dog, try keeping your pet leashed with you in the house.  You may need to contact your veterinarian to see if you can get some calming medication for your particularly skittish pet.  Your veterinarian will help you to decide whether your pet needs some form of medication to help them cope with the stress of the day.

Enjoy your 4th of July celebration and remember to consider your pet.