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Keeping Pets Calm Over 4th of July

While Independence Day weekend cookouts, firework shows, and festivities can be fun -- don't let the distractions put your pet in danger.
While Independence Day weekend cookouts, firework shows, and festivities can be fun -- don't let the distractions put your pet in danger.

Robin Bulster with Springfield Sidekick Dog Training offers some tips on how to keep your pets safe and calm this 4th of July.  It's the single biggest day for pets to go missing.  Many dogs and cats tend to panic and run off because of the noise and commotion associated with the 4th of July.

Preventative Tips

    ALWAYS Identify your dog with their name and phone number! The fourth of July is the #1 Day of the Year that dogs go missing because of all of the excitement, loud and scary noises and lack of proper identification. Pets belong at home - cats included - on this particular holiday. Keep them safe and keep them indoors - even if the party is at your home - keep them safely secured and identified - indoors.
    Start a potentially stressful day with a healthy dose of exercise. A tired dog is less likely to be reactive due to environmental distractions.
    Ensure your dog has eaten well and that they are well-hydrated to prevent them from becoming too warm if they are stressed. Be sure to maintain their water bowl since they may drink more than usual if it is warm or loud.
    Talk with your vet before the holiday arrives to learn about all of your dog's options such as behavioral training, natural aid and whether tranquilizers are necessary. Often times, vets will recommend conservative options such as herbal preventative tablets and environmental accommodations before graduating to pet medications.

Safety Reminders and Helpful Information

    Dangers for Dogs:
        Firecrackers, lighter fluid, matches and citronella are all poisonous to your dog. Inhalation and ingestion can cause neurological issues and severe respiratory issues such as pneumonia. Firecrackers contain: arsenic, heavy metals and also potassium nitrate - these are all very toxic ingredients that should never be near your dogs.
        Insect repellent & sunscreen can cause neurological issues. There are dedicated dog-safe products available. Skin irritation on contact, respiratory issues if inhaled and/or gastric issues if ingested can result.
        Do not feed your dogs from the table - there may be a variety of foods available and not all of them are safe so just let them stick to their normal everyday diet.
        Keep Glow Jewelry away from your pet. GI issues and intestinal blockage can result if ingested.
        Alcohol of all kinds - beer, wine and hard liquor are all toxic to your pet. Your pet could go into a coma or suffer from respiratory distress, which could lead to death. Do not even give them a tiny amount ever. Fermented hops and ethanol are poisonous to pets.
        Just because a label, food or supply says it is "all natural", does not mean it is safe for dogs - be sure that anything you give your dog has been approved by your vet.


    Where should my dog be on the 4th of July? Your dog will be most comfortable at home on the 4th of July and the days around the holiday since fireworks may happen for several days before and after the actual holiday. Pay attention to places and spaces in your home where your dog is most comfortable. This, ideally, would be an interior room or a room without access to the outdoors to ensure they are not accidentally let-out by someone. If you need to take them outside for a walk, ensure their are properly identified at all times and on a leash - even if they are near your home.

    What if I want my dog to celebrate the 4th of July with me? Your dog can celebrate at home with a festive collar or bandanna - BE CREATIVE! Your dog does not have to go into a timeout, this is can be nice and comforting without being boring or too crazy. If you must take your dog with you to an independence day celebration, be sure to have an exit strategy because attending an event can elevate their excitement level even before fireworks begin! This means, if your dog becomes stressed, you can quickly relocate them to a safe, secure and comfortable place where they can relax and rest, which means you should have their crate nearby at all times. Of course, never leave your pet alone, especially in a hot place like a car - if they are uncomfortable with an event, you both need to leave together.

    How do I make my dog a "Zen Retreat" or safe place? Start with your dog's favorite place that would ideally be an interior room. Next, collect a few supplies to stock: Favorite toy, bed and treat, aromatherapy spray and perhaps music to drown out the loud fireworks. For rooms with windows, be sure to closing the curtains or blinds. Ensure that you set your dog up for success by surrounding them with items that they enjoy as distractions such as a puzzle toy, kong with a special treat, plenty of water, a calming collar and/or natural aid supplement and soft bedding and/or a crate if they prefer their house. If your dog enjoys wearing a thundershirt for comfort and stress relief, be sure you have practiced wearing it in advance.

        Music therapy - this is a popular tool for humans and animals alike! With the loud nature of firecrackers, do not be afraid to consider adding some rock'n'roll to your dog's repertoire of classical and other soothing tunes. Just be sure that leading up to the holiday, your dog has been exposed to some louder types of music so that this does not add to their stress level. This is often a great trick to not only drowning out the blasting pops of firecrackers, but can also relax their human counterpart so that they feel more calm too.

        Aromatherapy DIY - I will bring in a lavender and vanilla spray that I made that can be used in your dog's favorite place. A few drops of essential oils with water in a spray bottle is an inexpensive way to naturally entice your dog to relax. Shelters often use this around their buildings to help comfort dogs. This is an easy craft that anyone can do to create a wonderful smelling sanctuary for your dog!

Also,  the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center offers the following safety suggestions:

1. Never leave alcoholic drinks unattended where pets can reach them. The fruity cocktail you are sipping can poison your pet. When ingested, alcohol can send animals into a coma or even cause fatal respiratory failure.

2. Only use insect repellent or sunscreen on your pet that is specifically designed for animal use.

3. Always keep dangerous items such as matches, lighter fluid, glow jewelry, citronella candles, insect coils, and oil products out of your pet's reach.

4. Do not use fireworks around your pet. Loud firework displays cause stress for animals. Instead, keep your pet safe from the noise in a quiet, escape-proof area of your home.

5. Keep your pets on their normal diet. As tempting as it may be, changing your pets diet for even one meal can cause many digestive issues. Foods such as chocolate, coffee, onions, avocado, grapes, salt and yeast dough can all be potentially toxic to animals.

To visit the ASPCA site, click here

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