Does your dog shake, pace, drool and try to hide when he hears fireworks? Piper stays fairly calm during thunderstorms and fireworks but is not crazy about them. He prefers being in his kennel with a blanket over it when things get loud. Other dogs that are downright terrified of fireworks may have anxiety attacks and have even been known to bite and run away! So here are some tips for keeping your dog safe and calm while you and others celebrate the 4th of July.
• First things first…
Before the celebration begins and darkness falls, feed your dog and then take him for a walk. Hopefully the meal and walk will take care of his needs for the evening. But, if he does have an “accident” during the fireworks, just clean it up and don’t make a big deal out of it. Remember, it’s just one night and this too shall pass…
• Stay Calm and Carry On… “ I Don’t Hear Anything, Do You?”
It may seem normal to cuddle your dog or sit on the floor with him and talk to him in soothing tones during a thunderstorm or fireworks, but doing so may only reinforce his anxiety and make him more nervous! Dogs can pick up on their humans’ feelings so it is important for you to stay calm if you want your dog to stay calm.
• Make Some Noise of Your Own!
Drown out the noise. Play music or turn on a machine that emits white noise. Vacuum the floor or start the washing machine. Turn on a fan or the television. Anything you can do to minimize or cover the sounds from outside will help keep your dog calm.
• Anything’s Better With Peanut Butter!
Give your dog a treat to get his mind off the noise. A chew toy called a Kong stuffed with peanut butter works really well. If you give your dog a chew toy, make sure it does not resemble your sister’s stuffed animals, Dad’s shoes or anything else belonging to humans that you don’t want him chewing up after the 4th of July!
• Give Your Dog a Cave to Crawl Into.
If your dog is familiar and comfortable with a dog crate, be sure to use it and put it in a room that is as far removed as possible from the noise. Cover the crate with a towel or blanket to create a safe, cave-like refuge. Close the blinds and darken the room.
No kennel? Let him crawl under your bed – Oh, come on, just this once – close the blinds, darken the room and turn on the radio or TV. If you have one, go to your basement and remain there with your dog, calmly reading or watching TV (careful not to be watching the National Fireworks Extravaganza!), until the fireworks subside. A basement can block out a great deal of sound!
If your dog is an outside dog, cover his kennel or dog house with a blanket and make sure he is securely inside or well staked to the ground. An anxious dog will try to get loose!
• Wrap Him Up!
Apply gentle pressure to your dog’s body in the form of a wrap designed to help relieve a dog’s anxiety during fireworks or thunderstorms. A wrap, known as a Thunder Shirt, fastened firmly around the dog’s midsection appears to calm his nervous system with a steady, gentle hug-like pressure. However, Thunder Shirts work best if they are in place before your dog gets antsy and the effect wears off in about 30 minutes. So it is best to remove the wrap and reapply it for another 30 minutes as needed.
• Keep An Eye On The Door!
Keep your dog away from exits and entrances to your home. Some dogs become so stressed out they may attack people entering or leaving. He may also make quick exit if the door is opened. This is a good time to ensure your dog has up-to-date tags that include a way for you to be contacted if he runs. Better yet, have a vet place a microchip under your dog’s skin. If your dog thwarts all of your best efforts to keep him safe and secure and runs away, the microchip will facilitate the return of your dog.
• And When all else fails…
Ask your veterinarian about anti-anxiety medications that can be given shortly before the fireworks begin. In Edgefield and Johnston, SC you can call one of Piper’s friends:
Dr. Clarence Bagshaw
Edgefield Veterinary Clinic and
218 Augusta Road, Edgefield, SC 29824
Dr. G.W. Rauton
Johnston Animal Hospital
626 Lee Street/Saluda Hwy, Johnston
Have a paw-fectly wonderful 4th of July!