The Fourth of July is an exciting holiday for most humans, but even with the delicious smells of grilled meat wafting in from every yard, and children carelessly dropping goodies, from a dog’s perspective the day is more of a nightmare than a dream….holding a plethora of dangers for pets who do not enjoy the blasting booms and flashing lights.
Just put yourself in your dog’s place…. Your humans have left and you are just relaxing on the couch. You’re kind of bummed that they didn’t take you along, but you’ve got your basket of toys to keep you company. Then all of a sudden, the sky explodes as thunder and fire shatter the darkness. The celebratory pops and flashes are downright scary for most four-legs. Noise phobia turns some dogs into chewing, defecating, trembling messes, and their behavior may include chewing through a door, jumping through a window, digging under a fence, or running into traffic. Did you know that more dogs go missing on the Fourth of July than on any other day of the year?
NEVER leave your pet outdoors on a chain, or even in a fenced yard. If he panics, he could injure himself by getting tangled in the chain, or he could run away, only to end up lost and alone. Keep him indoors in a quiet, sheltered area. Ideally someone would stay home with her, but if this is not possible, make the room a comfortable sanctuary with a soft bed, food and water, and a couple of his favorite toys. Shut the windows, close the blinds or curtains, and turn on the radio or television (or maybe both). Since many frightened animals become destructive, be sure to remove any item your dog could destroy or might be harmful if chewed…a couple stuffed Kongs will give him something good to chew.
We have found a CD that is super for calming dogs…I have several shelves full of books and tapes on “how to cure any behavior problem imaginable” , and most of them are what I consider “snake oil,” but I discovered a specific lullaby music, incorporating the rhythm of an actual human heartbeat that has a calming effect on babies, and it also works with dogs. If you have a nervous or easily frightened dog, Go to www.caninelullabies.com or call Terry toll free at 1-800-537-7748 for information on this CD that is effective not only for fireworks, but for other inappropriate behavior.
Wrapping a baby snuggly in a blanket, or “swaddling”, is a common practice for helping to calm an irritable or upset baby, and a ThunderShirt for dogs calms a dog with that same gentle pressure, and is an easy, safe solution for any noise anxiety, and many other anxiety, fear, and over-excitement issues. Simply wearing a ThunderShirt helps most dogs reduce or eliminate anxiety. For more information, go to www.thundershirt.com
There are also several flower essences formulated to relieve stress. Rescue Remedy is one of the best known and is used to create a calming effect in any stressful situation, or when your dog needs help overcoming a variety of emotional or behavioral problems.
Do not take your dog to any firework festivity, even if he is a mellow dog, or if you plan to leave him in the car. The temperature in a car—even with windows partially open—can be deadly, and if the dog panics, he can destroy the interior of your vehicle. Never set off fireworks close to where a dog is…don’t let the kids think it is “fun” to set off even the small, supposedly harmless variety. “Harmless” often results in injuries, both for the animals and the children. It is much better to attend events organized and supervised by professionals, and forget the backyard fireworks. Every year, dogs, cats, (and humans) are lost, injured or even killed as a result of fear and excitement during the festivities.
Make sure your pets have identification tags with current info, so that if they do become lost, they can be returned promptly. Two forms of ID are always best when it comes to protecting your pet—a physical tag and a microchip are recommended. If someone finds your dog, the first thing to look for will be a tag, and if she is taken to a shelter or pound, she will be scanned for a microchip.
By taking a few proactive steps, the holiday known for its rocket’s red glare and bombs bursting in air won’t cause your dog too much distress.