Helping Your Dog Cope With Thunder and Fireworks

FireworksThe arrival of hot weather and national holidays isn’t always a reason for celebration, especially for noise-phobic dogs. For them, hot weather means thunderstorms, and national holidays, like the Fourth of July, mean fireworks. And that can mean reactions from panting to panic attacks. It may also mean trembling, drooling or whining; pacing or barking; urinating or vomiting.

If you own this type of dog, it means bearing helpless witness to your pet’s extreme fear. Fortunately, there are various ways to deal with your animal’s distress. The first is to defuse the situation before it begins. Play a recording of the sounds of thunder at a low volume for brief intervals, adjusting the volume according to your dog’s responses, repeating this procedure over and over again.

But if a thunderstorm or fireworks display has already started, there are several coping strategies you can try:

* Divert your dog’s attention. Turn on the radio or television, engage in some active games and be generous with the treats.

* Provide your dog with a dark, comfortable place to hide – from a dog crate or the inside of a closet to a folded blanket under the bed. Being tucked away in a small, snug space allows your dog to feel more secure and muffles the noise outside.

* Buy dog-appeasing pheromones (their scent is similar to those released by nursing mother dogs), available in sprays, diffusers and collars.

* Bind a form fitting, fabric wrap or thick, woven shirt tightly around your dog. Both garments are meant to touch certain pressure points in your dog’s body, slowing down the heart, reducing knots of tension and helping to promote relaxation.

* If, however, your pet’s anxieties escalate, there are two remaining alternatives. Working with a qualified dog therapist to learn behavior modification techniques, or talking to your vet to see if a prescription for anti-anxiety medication may help.

But, whichever path you choose, follow it with kindness, patience and love. Think back to the sounds that frightened you as a child, and you’ll know just how your precious pet is feeling.

Author: Nomi Berger

Being Cautious is Cool This Summer

beach Shih TzuPicture yourself on a sweltering summer day wearing a long winter coat.

Are you hot yet? Itchy? Thirsty? Looking for shade?

Now picture your dogs on that same summer day. And you’ll have some idea of how THEY feel.

Protecting them from the hot sun, air and ground is essential to keeping them safe outside. All it requires is common sense and some advance planning.

Here are some suggestions:

For dogs with particularly thick or heavy coats, have a groomer lightly trim them back.

Guard against sunburn by applying either a child’s SPF 45 sun block or a specially formulated animal sunscreen to the tips of your dog’s ears, the nose and the belly.

Whether on a porch, patio or lawn, create a shaded area using planters or shrubbery.

Set up a makeshift canopy using a blanket draped across two chairs.

Limit your dog’s outdoor exercise. Take your walks early in the morning or when the sun is setting. If the day’s particularly hot and humid, forego your walks altogether.

Turn on a garden sprinkler and let your dog run through it or fill a small wading pool with water

Keep your dog’s water bowl filled, cool, and free of floating debris.

Avoid hot asphalt, which can quickly burn the pads of your dog’s paws. Place the back of your hand to the sidewalk or pavement. If you can’t keep it there for seven seconds, then it’s too hot for your dog. If possible, walk your dog on the grass instead.

Never leave your dog unattended in the car. Whether in the shade with the windows cracked or with the motor running and the air conditioning on, your car can become a deathtrap within minutes.

Watch your dog for signs of heat exhaustion. Because dogs don’t sweat, their only way of cooling down is by panting or releasing heat through their paws. Warning signs include exaggerated panting, excessive salivation, a vacant expression, restlessness or listlessness, trembling and skin that’s hot to the touch.

If your dog is exhibiting any of these signs, get him into the shade as quickly as possible. Give him cool water to drink and either hose him down, cover him with cool, damp cloths or put him in a bathtub filled with cool water. If your dog’s condition worsens, seek immediate medical attention.

To be a responsible pet owner is to be an informed pet owner.

The list of safety rules may seem long, but the hot days of summer are even longer.  

Author: Nomi Berger