Can you feel the excitement? With the Fourth of July holiday here, many are preparing for the barbecues and fireworks.
Dog owners know how scared their canine companions can get from the booming and crackling of fireworks. All the commotion from celebrations can make for particularly anxious events, sending some dogs into sensory overdrive.
Here are some ways you help make this time of the year a bit less stressful for your dog.
1. Noise preparation
Dogs have an elevated ability to interpret sound frequencies audibly and physically, according to Dr. Aziza Glass, a veterinarian with Freshpet.
If your dog does not like the sound of fireworks, try introducing them to it before the big day.
“If you have a surround system, make use of it,” Glass said.
She said using videos of fireworks and gradually increasing the intensity of the volume in your home can be a great way to acclimate your pet.
“Just get them accustomed to that loud noise and even the vibrations of those fireworks, because that’s what catches them off guard,” Glass said. “And when they’re doing a good job, they give them a great treat.”
2. Create a calm environment
If your neighbors typically launch fireworks, Glass said you should create a space that helps your dog deal with the noise.
“Sometimes that can be their favorite kennel, or it could be just knowing that they’re surrounded by family,” Glass said.
Pets feel less anxious when they feel safe, Glass added. She suggested you or someone they feel safe with is by their side until the fireworks are over, offering comfort, treats and affection throughout the evening.
When that’s not enough, Glass said, you can go to your primary care veterinarian for certain medications that will work very well for just this type of situation.
If you are planning to view fireworks or set off your own, avoid taking your dog outside.
3. Anti-anxiety methods
There are several tools that can be used for dogs with noise phobia. Glass suggested pet parents start to introduce them to anti-anxiety vests, a sound machine or lavender oil on their collars to help decrease stress in preparation for the Fourth of July.
Some dogs get so scared by the noise from fireworks that they run away. People should make sure their pet has some type of identification with contact information on them at all times.
A microchip, dog tags or both are great ways to ID a pet. If your pet has a microchip, make sure it is registered with a national database and your contact information is updated.
5. Check the fences
Confirm that your gates and fences are intact and are able to contain your pets in case they get out and try to run away from the noise.
6. Foods to avoid
There are a lot of food items that you might indulge in over the holiday weekend that your dogs will need to avoid.
“A lot of times when it comes to the backyard barbecues, you’re going to have a lot of fatty and very rich stuff that has a lot of sauces on it,” Glass said.
Aside from the meats, you want to keep your dog away from grilled onions and corn on the cob. Some alternatives would be beef and chicken patties that are made specifically for dogs.
7. Summer safety for dogs
In addition to keeping your pet calm, it’s also important to remember summer and heat safety during the Fourth of July.
“Just because we can manage the heat and humidity, doesn’t mean our pets can,” Glass said. “Our pets are vulnerable to temperatures over 80 degrees. However, there are things that we can do to keep our pets safe and protected from heat-related injuries, and some may come as a surprise.”
Dogs tend to heat up more quickly than their human counterparts, so it’s important to refrain from taking your dog out when the sun is at its peak. Try saving their energy for a cooler sundown walk.
Heat distress can come on quickly. Signs include excess drooling, heavy panting and fatigue. If you notice any of these indicators, bring your dog inside.
“If you believe your dog is having a heat stroke, bring them indoors immediately to help cool down,” Glass said. “A common mistake is putting the pet in a cold ice bath. That can actually shock their system and cause quick changes in their blood pressure.”
Instead, try soaking a towel with room temperature water to wipe down your dog. It will gently start the cooling process and give your dog a better chance of regulating their own body temperature. Afterward, go to your primary care veterinarian or closest emergency center, Glass said.
As for food and water, it’s essential to provide plenty of clean, fresh water and feed your dog moisture-rich fresh foods to help their intake.
Be sure to keep that hair trim simple. While summer haircuts can be good for long-haired dogs, shaving can expose skin to the sun’s harmful rays.
Always consult your veterinarian if you suspect any heat-related issues with your pet, Glass said.