For a number of years at this time, my dog Vyvyan tried to convince me that the sky was falling and that we need to run for cover. I’d explain that the loud bangs and bright flashes are our way of celebrating freedom, but he’d have none of it. To him, it was the dogpocalypse and he had no intention of getting caught up in any of that! Fortunately, there are ways to calm our furry friends and make our Independance Day celebrations less fearful and more comfortable them.
Here are Vyvyan’s best tips for making the Fourth of July safe and happy for everyone:
- Exercise your dog early in the day when there is little chance of fireworks going off. Make sure that you have him or her on a leash or in a fenced in area just in case.
- Make sure your pet is wearing ID tags on a properly fitting collar. Animals in a fearful state can go to drastic measures to escape their yards in an attempt to find safety.
- Keep your pet indoors in a safe area, starting a few hours before sunset. Closing windows and doors, and providing some music (like the Through A Dog’s Ear CD’s) or white noise will be helpful in softening the sounds coming from outside. Studies have also shown that the use of a body wrap like the Thundershirt or Anxiety Wrap can also help during those stressful times.
- Give your pet some fun things to do in their safe area. This is when you get to bust out all the fun feeder toys! Fill up two or three with your pet’s meal and then give them one at a time throughout the evening.
- Medications can help. Your veterinarian can prescribe an anti-anxiety medication such as Trazodone, to help alleviate the anxiety and fear caused by fireworks. It’s best to give the medicine one to two hours before the onslaught of booming in order for them to work properly. Be aware though that not all medications are proper for treating fireworks anxiety. Acepromazine is a common sedative that was used routinely in the past. Although it does have sedative properties, it has no anti-anxiety benefits and has been shown to make animals more sensitive to noises. Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) has also been used, but like acepromazine, it only causes some sedation and does nothing for the anxiety.
- Vyv’s Bestest Tip: Start planning for next year! Using a combination of training and desensitization will be key in teaching your dog that those sounds aren’t as scary as they used to be. Since he has been through his training, Vyv hears the loud pop of a firecracker and runs over with a wagging tail waiting for his treat! (I was so proud!)
If you would like more information on how to keep your pet safe this year, or how to help prepare for next year, please let us know!
Have a Safe and Happy Independence Day Everyone!
~Jenn and Vyv