July 4th is just a few days away. While this holiday means celebration and fun for people, it can hold unfortunate woes for our pets. As you make plans with your family for this important holiday, be sure to take your pets into account by considering the following points:
- Firework displays are no place for most pets. The sounds can be loud and startling. Curious dogs who get too close to the fireworks run the risk of burn or injury. Many fireworks contain toxic substances that can harm your pet if ingested.
- While attending a cookout, be mindful of your dog at all times. A dog that raids the food table, cleans up food off the ground, or who is especially keen at the begging game can potentially develop vomiting, diarrhea, or even pancreatitis from eating all that food.
- Do not leave unattended alcoholic beverages around pets. If ingested, these beverages can make your pet very ill.
- During outdoor activities, be mindful of the temperature and keep your dog cool (visit our Blog on Warm Weather Safety for more information).
Some dogs struggle much more than others with the sounds of fireworks – to the extent they actually have a fear or phobia. These dogs require additional considerations during fireworks:
- Unfortunately many fearful dogs run away each year during fireworks, so keep the dog indoors in a quiet, escape-proof location.
- Distracting the dog during the noise may prove effective. For example, leave the TV or radio on, give the dog a special favorite toy or chew, or engage your dog in fun activities that you typically enjoy together (in the house of course).
- One of the most important things to remember when managing a fearful behavior such as a noise phobia is that a well-meaning owner can inadvertently reinforce the fearful response by giving affection and comfort to the dog during the fearful behavior. So instead, work to ignore the fearful behavior, distract the dog and then redirect the dog into a highly motivating task.
- Many dogs will respond quite well to the behavior modifications listed above. However, if you are still struggling with your pet’s noise phobia then it is important to discuss your concerns with one of our veterinarians. Your pet may be a candidate for medication intervention during these noise phobia situations.
Have fun and keep your pet safe this 4th of July!
Author: Dr. C. Noureddine, DVM, MS