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Posted on 06-14-2013

4th of July: Afraid of the Big Boom?

The 4th of July brings thoughts of sunny day barbeques, lounging in the backyard with good friends and family. At sunset, fireworks are heard all around the neighborhood. Sounds like the perfect way to celebrate our country’s independence right?

Unfortunately, the loud pops, whistles and explosions along with flashing lights can overwhelm our pets with anxiety and fear, eliciting a panic response that dramatically increases their chances of getting injured or lost. More pets go missing around the 4th of July than any other time of the year.

It can be difficult to tell if your pet is experiencing anxiety or stress. Signs may include any or all of the following: panting, drooling, pacing, hiding, abnormal urination or defecation, shaking and acting more clingy than normal. Even if your pet’s signs seem mild, fears often escalate over time and repeated exposure.

Here are several tips that may help your pet during the days surrounding the 4th of July or even thunderstorms. Our recommendations will be most successful in mild cases of anxiety before they start to exhibit signs during an event.

  1. Keep cats and dogs indoors on and around the 4th of July, especially during the evening hours. If your dog must “do their business”, use a leash attached to a well-fitted and sturdy collar or harness to walk your dog. Don’t leave your pet unattended. Be aware that in a moment of fear, a dog may be perfectly capable of escaping a seemingly secured back yard.
  2. Make your pet feel safe. It will help if you go about your normal routine as much as possible, talking and playing with your pet as usual. Someone may need to stay home with them. Make sure they have access to their “comfort zones” or a quiet area of the house with less stimulus from the outside. Keep windows closed and curtains drawn to decrease the amount of noise and light flashes.
  3. Turn on music with a strong beat or an exciting television show. It only needs to be loud enough to distract from what is happening outside. At bedtime, a running fan or white noise machine may help muffle sounds.
  4. Use of anxiety relieving pheromone such as Feliway for cats or Adaptil for dogs may be helpful. These products can be found at our clinic and are available over the counter.
  5. Thundershirts can be calming as well. May dogs feel comfort with a tight fitting shirt such as these and can reduce the symptoms of stress. Calming Caps, head or body halters and TTouch therapy may also substitute.
  6. Talk to your veterinarian about medications that may be needed as well. Especially in advanced cases of anxiety, it may be necessary in conjunction with the other tips. There are several options of medication now available. The key to using an anxiety relieving medication is to do a “practice run” to test how your pet responds. Also, have your pet take the medication several hours before fireworks begin so they are fully effective.

Call our office for a consultation appointment if your pet experiences anxiety during the 4th of July or thunderstorms. We are here to help guide you and your pet through a safe and wonderful Independence Day.

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