Thursday, June 27, 2013

4th of July Tips for your dog

With 4th of July just around the corner, it is important to keep your pet safe and secure.   Many dogs are afraid of fireworks.  Here are some things to keep in mind to keep your pet safe and happy this holiday:

* Avoid keeping your pet in the yard.  Fearful dogs will often try to dig, jump or climb their way out of the yard to escape the noise.  Many dogs get lost and end up in the shelter this way. 

*Make sure that your pet has proper ID in the event that he/she gets lost. Consider microchipping your dog.

*Avoid the temptation to take your dog to fireworks shows or outdoors. A fearful dog could bolt and get lost. Fearful dogs can also feel trapped and may lunge or bite people or other dogs around them. Play it safe, keep them at home.

*Keep your pets indoors and provide a secure place for your pet stay in.  This can be a crate or a quiet, pet-proofed room in your home that does not receive as much outside noise. Dogs can try to chew their way out of an area when scared so make sure it is a secure area.  Close your windows and front door to shut out outside noises.

*What if you have a new dog or puppy and this is their first 4th of July? Play with your dog. During those hours when fireworks happen (usually 9 p.m. to midnight here in Los Angeles), play games with your dog. Play fetch or tug of war. Give your dog a toy to play with or work on a Nina Ottosson interactive puzzle with your dog. Click here for examples. Interacting with you will keep your dog's mind off the noises outside and on the games you are playing with your dog. Here is an example of my dog working on Tug-a-Jug under my supervision.  She is so preoccupied with working on this toy that outside noises are unlikely to distract her:

*Consider playing music or keep the T.V. on as background noise. There are music CDs that have been created specifically to calm dogs.  Through a Dog's Ear is an example of a CD series. 



*Alternative remedies:  For mild cases, some dogs respond well to flower essences and homeopathic remedies. Bach's Rescue Remedy for pets is one of the older brands out there and can be found in most natural pet stores.  For homeopathic remedies you can consult with a homeopathic veterinarian for suggestions and dosage instructions.

*Body Wraps: many people have had success with body wraps which in effect "swaddle" your dog. I often use this product with fearful or anxious dogs. In her book, "Help for Your Fearful Dog," Nicole Wilde discusses a variety of methods of doing this and the proper way of introducing your dog to a wrap. In addition, there is a body vest marketed under the brand names, "Anxiety Wrap" and "Thundershirt" designed to achieve the same result. However, you should first acclimate your dog to the vest before a storm or fireworks so your dog does not react negatively to wearing the vest.

*Another calming product is Dog Appeasing Pheromone that can be sprayed on your dog's bedding or used as a room atomizer.  It is usually sold in pet stores under the brand name "Comfort Zone." 

*For severe cases talk to your vet:  for severe cases of anxiety or if your dog is at risk of injuring himself/herself, prescription medication may be necessary to keep your dog calm and safe. In such cases,  it is best consult with your veterinarian before the holiday.

My old akita had mild to moderate anxiety to fireworks. I made sure that he was in a pet-proofed room with the T.V. on and the windows closed. Sometimes I distracted him with toys and games he liked to play. I also used a Thundershirt and distracted him with Nina Ottosson puzzles which seemed to help:

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  1. Thanks for a very good post...we prefer to generate all the background noise we can, t.v., radio, fan, airconditioner...

  2. Great post and thanks for the mention of Through a Dog's Ear. The music has been clinically demonstrated to calm the canine nervous system and has helped many dogs with sound phobias, including fireworks.
    My dog, Sanchez, also goes bonkers over the Tug-A-Jug