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Keeping Your Dog Safe and Calm this 4th of July

10 Tips to Help Keep your Pets Safe and Calm this 4th of July
Kris Latson DVM

Hi! It’s Dr. Latson from Ample Nutrition.

Summer is my favorite time of the year! It means more time spent with family, enjoying long warm days, BBQ’s and celebrations. July 4th is just around the corner, and with that comes plenty of festivities and fireworks to commemorate our nation’s birthday!

Like humans, dogs are all very different; they react to fireworks differently. Some dogs get anxious and upset by the booms, flashes and burning smells. Others truly “freak out” and panic – jumping through closed windows or escaping through doors to get away from the explosive noise and lights. More pets run away on the Fourth of July than any other day, so it is important to take the necessary steps to ensure your pet’s safety and comfort to make this holiday easier on everybody.

The good news is there are many ways you can reduce your pet’s anxiety and keep him safe. Here are some tips and techniques to ensure a safe and calm Fourth of July for both of you.

 

10 Tips to help keep your dog safe and calm during fireworks:

  1. Don’t wait until the last minute! Prepare and plan for the holiday. Talk with your family or veterinarian to answer the following questions: How has your dog reacted in the past to fireworks or loud noises? What worked? What would you change? Would your dog benefit from a calming supplement to take the edge off? Have you prepared your pet’s environment so he will feel safe? Is it best to stay home with your dog? If you won’t be home, should you place him with a caregiver or doggie day care?

  2. Make sure your dog has a properly fitted collar with ID tags. Confirm that his microchip is up to date as tags and collars can be lost. If your dog needs a potty break during the fireworks, take him outside ON a leash, even in a fenced yard.

  3. Know which veterinary hospitals will be open on July 4th, in case you need one, and add it to your phone contacts.

  4. Make sure your pet gets plenty of exercise earlier in the day. Exercise decreases cortisol levels, releases energy, and is a great stress buster.

  5. Keep your pets inside during the fireworks. Make sure all doors and windows are closed and secured. Provide plenty of fresh water to keep up with the summer heat, possible power outages, or a nervous, panting pet that may need more water.

  6. If possible, stay home with your pets. Comfort your pets with a soothing voice and calming touch if they are anxious. Ask
    a family member, friend, or dog sitter to
    stay with your pet.

    • Second best option, a companion dog that isn’t noise-phobic can also help reduce the reaction in your dog and make recovery easier.

  7. Create a safe haven for your pet in your home:

    • Close all windows and curtains prior to the fireworks. Be sure to leave the lights on to mask the flickering lights of the fireworks at night.
    • If it’s hot, turn on the air-conditioning or a fan – this will keep the house cool and drown out the explosive sounds of the fireworks.
    • Create a safe and comfortable den in which your pet can relax. Use his cues to tell you where he feels safest – maybe in a open closet, under the bed, a bathroom, or in his crate.
    • If you’re using a crate, cover it with a heavy blanket to muffle the firework sounds and flashes of light - BUT leave the crate door open so he can come and go as he pleases. Confinement can also cause panic and anxiety.
    • Make sure his favorite toys are available and in sight. Place a worn t-shirt of yours on his bed as it may be comforting too.
    • If he’s a chewer, make sure he has some long-lasting chews to comfort and distract - my favorites are frozen, raw marrow bones, a Kong filled with frozen dog food, peanut butter, or treats. (With any treat, supervision is always recommended. You know your dog best.)

  8. Play soothing, relaxing music BEFORE the event when your dog is relaxed. Begin playing this music a few days before the event so your pet associates this music with a calm, positive experience. Then play the music several hours before the fireworks start and continue playing into the night to promote stillness and drown out the offensive noise outside.

  9. Use a Natural, Drug-Free Anxiety Support Supplement: Ample Nutrition’s Naturally Calming Anxiety Support Chew may help reduce stress and anxiety.

    • Our Calming Chews were designed to help reduce stress and fear-induced behavior without causing your dog to become drowsy or affect his personality. They contain the natural active ingredients: chamomile flower, passion flower, ginger root, and L-Tryptophan. They’re free from artificial ingredients, contain no drugs or sedatives and have no added salt or sugar.
    • Directions: Give based on weight 30-60 minutes before fireworks event
    • Click Ample Nutrition Naturally Calming Anxiety Chew and it will take you to Amazon.
      Use code AXEUQJFR to receive 20% off this product until July 4th.
    • With your purchase, receive Dr. Latson’s amazing FREE eBook: “Happy Dog, Happy Owner.”

  10. Try other remedies: I find that a combination of techniques can bring success and that certain remedies work well for one dog but not another. Be open to a bit of trial and error. Here are some of my favorites:

    • Anxiety Wraps and the Thundershirt are pressure wraps that dogs of all sizes can wear to reduce anxiety and provide comfort, similar to swaddling a baby.
    • Adaptil is a synthetic pheromone that mimics the nurturing pheromones that a mother dog emits. Available as a collar, diffuser or spray that can be used around your dog’s bed or other favorite areas
    • Aromatherapy: diffusing relaxing oils such as lavender and chamomile can have a similar calming effect
    • Mutt Muffs: ear muffs designed for dogs to reduce sounds
    • Calming Caps: can be fitted over your dog’s eyes to reduce visual stimulation that often accompanies stressful noises such as fireworks.

I always recommend trying natural and safe supplements and remedies first. But, as we already know, all dogs have different personalities and tolerances. If your dog suffers from severe anxiety and the tips and techniques discussed show no improvement, I recommend that you talk with a veterinarian who may prescribe FDA-approved behavior modification drugs such as Clomicalm, Reconcile or Fluoxetine. Working with a vet who combines medication with behavior modification techniques, such as desensitization and classical counter-conditioning, has the best chance for a positive outcome.

Thank you for taking the time – and I wish you a happy, healthy, and rewarding relationship with your pet for many years to come. Feel free to share your experience with your dog during previous July 4th holidays.

 

Dr. Kris Latson
kris@amplenutrition.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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