4th of July Tips For Keeping Your Dog Safe

4 July, 2013 0 Comments
Dog Anxiety | Firework Safety Tips For the 4th Of July

Photo Credit: Bruised Not Broken Dog Rescue, NYC

It’s a time of the year known for friends, family, fireworks on the beach, cook outs and celebrating our Independence American style. While we know this holiday for fun, relaxation and an all around good time — your dog feels strongly otherwise! Did you know that July 5th is the busiest day of the year for animal shelters? Hundreds of thousands of dogs and cats suffer from firework anxiety, which causes them to act erratically. Erratic behavior from firework anxiety can include pacing the house in circles, shaking uncontrollably, destructive behavior and often times breaking free and running away from home. Dogs often flee into the night, causing them to get lost, injured, sometimes even killed.I realize most of you are not 7 months pregnant and aren’t planning on staying home in bed cuddling with your pitbull all night. So for those of you who are going out to celebrate our nations Independence, here are some tips on keeping your pooch safer, calmer and happier during this extremely stressful time:

1) Make sure your dog is properly identified at ALL times
This includes a microchip AND a collar. I don’t care how much you trust your dog, do not walk them off leash during this stressful time. Leave the collar on all night, no matter how much they itch or try to scratch it off. If your dog runs away and does not have the proper identification, the holding time in most shelters is 3-5 days before euthinaization. Make sure you have an up to date, recent photo of your dog in case they get lost….which I’m sure you do. Most pet owners have about 5,000 photos of their dog on their phones (or maybe I’m just a freak).

2) Keep the music or TV loud to drown out the sound

The loud bangs, whistles and pops of fireworks are not associated with celebration in your pooches mind. Remember, a dogs hearing is part of their survival skills. Dogs are able to hear louder, much higher frequencies than humans. According to Animal Health Care, It is estimated that dogs may hear up to 45,000 Hertz , a sense of sound much more superior to humans which can merely reach up to 23,000 Hertz.

3) Purchase a Thundershirt

I recently purchased the Thundershirt, which acts as a “hug” for your dog, keeping them calmer during the firework anxiety. The first night it didn’t work b/c I put it on after she went into freak out mode. I tried again last night and by putting the shirt on hours before the festivities began, it seemed to really help. She was still panicked, but wasn’t shaking and going into convulsions like the night before. The Thundershirt can be purchased almost anywhere, just do a Google Search and find a local store if time is running out.

4) Calming treats work!

…if you buy the right kind. I’m not an advocate of purchasing dog treats given the recent recalls. I try to make my own weekly. However, calming treats contain elements I can’t easily purchase in the store, so once or twice a year I’ll use them. Last year I tried Dr. Fosters and Smiths Ultra Calm Bites. While both my beagle and pitbull liked the taste, they didn’t do squat.

This year I tried Composure Soft Chews. They worked a little too well. I gave my dog double the dose as instructed by the package, and she passed out. When I tried to wake her up to go outside, she was in a fog, almost fell off the bed and was drooling. So, I don’t recommend doubling the dose unless your dog REALLY freaks out during the firework display. One dose is enough!

My vet also gave us Acepromazine (also called Ace) which is a tranquilizer for dogs, often used during surgeries or other high anxiety situations. You can pick this up from your vet or purchase online at PetMeds. How it works according to PetMeds.com “Acepromazine is classified as a phenothiazine neuroleptic, which means it modifies the chemicals in your pets brain to change their behavior. Its a tranquilizer that depresses the central nervous system. The mechanism of action is not exactly known, however, its thought to block receptors of dopamine in the brain, a chemical used for cell-to-cell communication.”

While I normally do not advocate drugging your dog, every pet is different and some have serious reactions to fireworks that could cause injury to themselves and others. For me, this is one-time a year thing and is necessary.*

Here are a few other dog safety tips for the 4th of July from PetFinder.com:


*Talk to your vet before you give your dog any kind of medication, I’m obviously not a licensed professional which is the only person you should ever take medication advice from. These are merely tips & suggestions I’ve used to calm my dog….but who the hell am I right?

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