July 4th Fireworks Pet Tips

07/01/2010
Author: Dr. Patrick Mahaney

I recently had a client contact me for advice on ways to reduce their dog’s stressful experience that inevitably occurs around the July 4th holiday.  The loud, jarring noises produced by fireworks cause their dog to exhibit undesirable behaviors related to anxiety.  Such behaviors include pacing, vocalizing, drooling, inappropriate urination and defecation, and destroying environmental objects. 

This 4th of July, take preventative measures to reduce the likelihood your pet will experience a potentially hazardous incident related to firework stress.

Completely restrict your pet’s access to the immediate or adjacent area where incendiary devices are being fired.  Keep your pet indoors in a quiet, cool, isolated part of your home.  Play music or put on your pet’s favorite television channel (perhaps Meerkat Manor marathon) to mask firework sounds.  If needed, crate your pet to prevent them from running through windows, scratching at doors, or eating inappropriate materials as a manifestation of their anxiety. 

Exercise your pet in the hours leading up to the firework event.  A tired pet will have a greater physiologic need to seek rest during your celebration.

Promote a calmer state by giving your pet a dose of a stress relieving product, such as Rescue Remedy Pet, 1-2 hours before a potentially distressing event.  I often administer this product to my patients in conjunction with acupuncture treatments to promote better acceptance the sensation initially caused by needle insertion.

Ask your veterinarian to prescribe an appropriate sedative or anxiety relieving medication.  Acepromazine is a commonly used animal sedative, yet it does not have anxiolytic (anxiety relieving) properties.  Alprazolam (Xanax) is an anxiolytic and mild sedative.  Both of these mediations can exacerbate sedation caused by narcotic pain relievers (Tramadol, Butorphanol, other), antihistamines (Diphenhydramine, other), or calming herbal supplements.  Only use these medications under the guidance of your veterinarian.

Have a safe and healthy July of 4th holiday.  

Copyright of this article is owned by Dr. Patrick Mahaney, Veterinarian and Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist.  The opinions in this article are those of the author and not the AKC Canine Health Foundation.

 

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