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Is your pet ready for the 4th of July?

Is your dog ready for the 4th of July?
Lisa Radosta, DVM, DACVB

“Noise phobia” is a common problem in dogs and cats. Many pets react with extreme fear and panic when they hear fireworks. Some may hide and tremble, while others cause destruction to the owner’s home and still others injure themselves trying to escape the home or a crate. With a little help from you, your pet can get through July 4th without any emotional or physical distress. Follow the guidelines below for a safe and happy July 4th for both you and your pet. 

DO’S AND DON’TS:

DO:
1. Plan ahead. Contact your veterinarian in June to discuss medications which may help your pet be comfortable on July 4th.  Most medications for this use require dosing trials with your pet (testing their effect on your pet at the prescribed dosage) before they can actually be used effectively on July 4th. 
2. Drown out the sound of the fireworks. Turn on the radio, TV, fan or “white noise” machine.
3. Keep your pet occupied. Give your pet something fun to do like a food filled toy, or play their favorite game with them
4. Hand your pet 3 toys from the toy box that he or she hasn’t seen in a while.
5. Change your attitude. Act excited and happy and your dog will often follow.
6. Change the environment. Consider boarding at your veterinarian’s hospital or a boarding facility.
7. Create a safe and soundproof place for your pet to go during the fireworks. 

DON’T:
1. Punish your dog for their destructive behavior. They are panicked. If you punish them, you will teach them to not only be afraid of the fireworks, but also to be afraid of you, too. This will not help their behavior to improve.

2. Entice your pet to get in your lap or to cuddle with you. While cuddling may seem like the most loving thing to do, in the long run, it will actually worsen your pet’s behavior. First, it teaches your pet that you are the only way to stay safe when he or she is frightened. Unfortunately, you will not always be able to be with your pet when he or she is in a frightening situation. If you don’t teach him or her another way to stay safe, your pet will be lost and even more panicked without you. Second, cuddling doesn’t give your pet any instruction. It doesn’t tell him or her how they can stay safe. As a result, they never learn the tools that they need to feel calmer.

3. Take your pet to fireworks displays.

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