Happy July 4th – how are you celebrating? And when? Because the holiday comes in the middle of the week this year, celebrations are likely to happen this weekend, the day of and even the weekend after. Which, if you’re into the holiday can be quite fun for you, but if you have a pet who is fearful, it can be very stressful. I try to imagine what the animals must be thinking when I hear the boom and pop of the fireworks and firecrackers. It has to be incredibly frightening – the fact that not all of our pets are hiding, shivering under the bed, is amazing!
There are those, however, that literally will be so freaked out that they will hurt themselves. Hopefully if that is the case with your dog (more often dogs are like that than cats) you have already taken the precaution of getting a sedative from your veterinarian. It’s a little late now to start thinking about it! There are other things to try to keep our pets calm besides sedating them. Trazadone is a quick acting medication that has some anti-anxiety properties and might be helpful.
There are also non-chemical options for dogs with noise fears; one is a Thundershirt. It is a pressure wrap that works much like swaddling an infant. Pressure wraps are beneficial to autistic children and it has been proven to work on dogs too. It takes no training to use, you don’t need a prescription and the results are usually quite immediate. You can learn more about these shirts at www.thundershirt.com.
Another is a DAP (dog appeasing pheromone) collar or spray. D.A.P. works by releasing a substance that mimics the scent that a female dog secretes to comfort and reassure their nursing puppies. It comes imbued in a collar or as a wipe, spray or room diffuser that is sold under the name Comfort Zone. It has a calming effect on dogs (there is a similar product for cats called Feliway) and it can be helpful. You can use it anytime you know in advance that your dog is facing a frightening experience (a move, vet visit, etc.)
Sometimes just locking the animals in an interior room with the radio on to block some of the noise can be helpful. At least they are not likely to jump through the window or bolt out a door. They run out of fear to get away from the noise but on this night the noise is everywhere! Shelters fill up with lost frightened animals so it’s especially important today that your pet has on his collar and tags and hopefully is microchipped (we offer free chips to our residents and we’re open both Saturday and Sunday so you can safeguard your pet).
I find that if I can really tire my dogs out during the day they seem to handle the fireworks at night better. We always try to go for a long hike or swim so that they are too worn out to care -tricks that work well when your pets are scared? I’m curious too how many of you plan your holiday around keeping your dogs safe and skip the parties? To all you caring pet parents out there I’ll wish you a safe and sane July 4th!
Fix-it Clinics – Free spay and neuters for cats; and $60 dog surgeries (up to 80 lbs.) for low-income Rohnert Park and Cotati residents. Call 588-3531 for an appointment.
No More Lost Pets – free microchips and pet ID tags for residents of Rohnert Park and Cotati City. Stop by the shelter during our open hours with your pet to get one! The shelter is open Wed. 1-6:30 p.m., Thur.-Fri.-Sat. 1-5:30 p.m. and Sun. 1-4:30 p.m.
Mickey Zeldes is the supervisor at the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.