Keep 4th of July Fun for Everyone

June 30, 2015


Did you know that the 5th of July is the busiest day of the year when it comes to lost pets??!??


Summer time brings a lot of fear for your dogs & cats, from thunderstorms to fireworks. Fireworks can be especially scary regardless if your pet is indoors or out. These unexpected booms can cause dogs to jump through closed windows or doors to escape from the noise and lights. All pets demonstrate anxiety and fear differently. Common signs include: trembling, pacing, panting, drooling, attention-seeking behaviors (barking, pawing, nuzzling, and even climbing/jumping on people), bolting, and hiding.


Make sure that all of your pets are wearing identification tags or collar with phone numbers. Better yet, have your pet microchipped. Tags and collars can become lost or unreadable. Microchips offer permanent information with a simple placement (similar to an injection) that cannot be lost or damaged. If you do not have an ID tag but your pet has a Butler Veterinary Clinic rabies tag, we can use the unique number on the tag to identify your pet.


Also, keep your pets on their normal diet. A diet change for even one meal can cause upset stomach and diarrhea. Remember the following foods should never be consumed: raisins, onions, chocolate, coffee, avocado, grape, salt/yeast dough, and alcohol. While you are barbecuing, remember that seasoned meats (upset stomach) and bones (shards - ouch!) can cause health concerns. Ask your guest to refrain from feeding your pets leftovers or snacks.


We can’t say this enough - NO ALCOHOL for pets! Any unattended beverage can be consumed by your pet. Even a little alcohol can result in depression, coma, and even death.


Keep lighter fluid and matches away from your pets. Some of these contain chlorates which can cause kidney disease. Do not use sunscreen or bug repellent that is not clearly labeled for pets! DEET can lead to neurologic problems. Citronella, bug repellents, and sunscreen can lead to stomach irritation. There are many bug repellents and sunscreens on the market for dogs and cats. Give us for any recommendations or question you have.




Never throw a firework around your pet. This can increase their anxiety, as they can think that you are aiming at them. For the dogs that aren’t bothered by the noises and sounds of fireworks, this still applies! Dogs that love to fetch will not understand that the firework that you just threw was not for them to retrieve. Injuries to the throat and mouth are very common when the dogs go to retrieve the fireworks. Also, “dead” fireworks can contain toxins - be aware!



Drug-Free Approaches:

Most pets do better when they are not alone during firework displays. Sometimes this isn’t feasible. If you cannot find someone to stay with them or board them at a kennel, place them in a crate (if crate trained) or designate a “safe” room for them, away from the noise and lights. Be sure to keep your pet indoors, in an escape and destruction-proof area.


Adding soothing music and calming pheromones can also be beneficial, as the music can help drown out the fireworks. These pheromone sprays imitate the smells of the lactating female that gives kittens or puppies a sense of well-being.


Some pets respond well to special anxiety wraps. These wraps work by applying a light, constant pressure - much like swaddling and cuddling an infant. Stop by for free custom measurements to get the best fit!


If your pet doesn’t suffer from extreme anxiety with fireworks, classical counter conditioning can help. This is the practice of creating a positive association with fireworks. In order to do this, offer high-value food rewards (frozen canned dog food “meatballs” or peanut butter {Xylitol-Free}) or use food puzzles. If your pet isn’t food-motivated, use their favorite toy or practice some of your pets tricks with him. Your goal here is to make the fireworks associated with pleasant rewards.



If the above tips and tricks just seem to be not enough, consult Dr. Wood about adding medication to help your pet deal with the holiday festivities. It is much easier to prevent a fearful reaction than it is to reverse it. A short-term sedative before the fireworks kick off can help your pet deal with the loud, unexpected noises of the 4th. In other cases, medications that increases the levels of serotonin may help the severely anxious pet. However, these medications take several weeks to become effective.



There are many options to help your pet this week. Schedule a consult with Dr. Wood today to determine what plan is right for your pet.


Should the need arise, we are available over the holidays and 24/7 for emergencies. Call us at (402) 376-1500!


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