By Katy Cable-The Weekly Runt
A 4 minute read
It’s that time of year again! Time for celebrations, outdoor living, beach day's, BBQ's and of course...What may be the WORST DAY OF THE YEAR for many dogs...The 4th of July!
When it comes to the 4th of July, I’m right there with most dogs and like the holiday as much as I like a parking ticket. Huge crowds of drunk, disorderly people invade my little beach community and it becomes a loud, crazy, “RED, WHITE & BOOZE” war zone. Even with the pandemic canceling many activities and closing bars, the beach and parks are still going to be packed!
Good news! Here are my SURE-FIRE, “tried & true” “red white & blue” tips for surviving the 4th! Hopefully these suggestions will allow YOU AND YOUR PUP to enjoy a stress-free “Safe & Sane” holiday.
Did you know more pets go missing or end up in shelters during the 4th of July holiday than at any other time during the year. It’s crucial to check your dog's ID tag and micro-chipping (your vet can scan and confirm your contact info. is up-to-date and it’s working.) If your dog's collar is loose or getting worn or the contact info is hard to read, -get a new one! That way, God-forbid your dog goes missing, your chances of being reunited are much more likely.
Let's start with your dog. If they have exhibited "off-the-charts" anxiety that would be more than even Cesar Millan could conquer, -PLAN AHEAD! I recommend if you can't stay with your dog, you consider making a reservation to board your dog overnight in a sound-proof facility. I know PetSmart has a great program with fun ice-cream socials and play-times. After a fiull day of fun, the dogs can rest peacefully in sound-proof kennels. The price is reasonable BUT they book quickly for this holiday (many are booked a year in advance!) so call NOW!!! Maybe you’ll get lucky with more people staying home.
If boarding isn't going to work, look into hiring a pet-sitter to stay with your anxious dog. Be safe and either take your dog to their home (preferable somewhere that has minimal firework activity.) Or find someone in your “quarantine group” to dog-sit.
Whether you’re staying with your dog, boarding them, or getting a pet-sitter, I recommend a few tips: Begin looking in stores or on-line for items that help with anxiety. The very best defense I have found for firework anxiety is CBD. These treats, oils, and capsules have been a game-changer for fearful dogs. Since not all products are as potent or sourced as rigorously, check my site for companies I use and trust. (Plus receive a 10% discount on your order!) CBD works MIRACLES on a variety of issues including firework anxiety and has ZERO side-effects.
Next, grab an arsenal of NEW toys/treats. I like to buy all-natural (free-range/grass-fed with no hormones, antibiotics or steroids) buffalo ears or, if I can supervise, bully-sticks. I give these out when the firework festivities are beginning. Often the dog is so focused on their stress-relieving chew, they forget about the fireworks. Buffalo ears dissolve and are suitable for even the tiniest of pups. Also they don't run the risk of being a choking hazard. Be sure to choose brands that use free range, grass-fed meats with no hormones, antibiotics, or steroids.
Another good idea is fill a Kong with some canned and dry turkey dog food (I use Nulo which is grain-free, human-grade quality and contains a powerhouse probiotic, GanedenBC30.) I mix the two together then pop it in the freezer if it's a hot day. The tryptophan in the turkey acts as a natural sleep inducer and will help relax your anxious dog.
Other great options are rope and chew toys made of hemp and/or calming herbs. Most pet stores have a great selection of “calming toys” to chose from.
When fireworks begin, distract your pet from the “Bombs bursting in air...” noise by engaging them with interactive play. Many people baby and pamper their frightened pet. This only encourages fearful behavior. Instead, snap them out of this state by grabbing a toy and playing chase or tossing a toy and telling them to go fetch.
Set up a "calming zone" in a quiet place with your dog's bed, a covered crate, a diffuser containing lavender oil and pheromone (a hormone found to reduce stress and anxiety.) Compression THUNDER®️ shirts can also be a help for some dogs. Others, like Pugs and flat-faced breeds, may get too overheated. Some dogs get more anxious getting in and out of the restrictive garb. If you purchase a shirt make sure you can return it if it doesn’t work well for your dog. Add a few new toys. Don't let your dog have access to this area until the evening gets going. Toys will be new and exciting and a good distraction from fireworks. Try and drowned out firework noise with the TV or music but if it’s still too loud, maybe move this spot to the bathroom and run a warm bubble-bath. (Never leave a pet unattended around a tub of water!)
If you must leave your dog, and can't hire anyone to pet-sit, put your pet in their calming area and put on classical music which has shown to reduce stress in dogs. There are several great stress-relieving music sources for canines if you search online. I love doing Houndbath/Soundbaths and have some great recommendations on my website. Try and stay with your pet until they are relaxed and calm.
Make sure pets are left in a secure place and can't escape. Before leaving: always double and triple check all windows, doors, and gates. (When in a state of panic dogs can scale 16ft walls and achieve other miraculous feats.) If possible use a camera to check on your dog while you’re away. It's not an ideal time to leave them alone and depending on the stress level, I would only do this as a last resort for a very short amount of time.
Lastly, start the day with lots of exercise. It will no-doubt be crowded but try and get out early before the heat and craziness kick into high gear. Even an older dog can go for a nice, long, albeit SLOW, walk. Or, for less mobile dogs, a long stroll in a wagon will get them out in the fresh air. This will get their adrenaline going, get their heart rate up, and best of all, tire them out. Hopefully they will sleep like a baby later on.
Ironically, my little Olive, who's frightened of her own shadow, has no problem with fireworks. I'M the one who will be under the bed eating CBD treats, wearing my noise-cancelling headphones chilling out. Be safe and have a fun holiday! 🇺🇸Pugs and kisses! -Katy. 🐾