Keeping your dogs safe this 4th of July

While many of us humans are looking forward to celebrating Independence Day next week, to our pets the holiday is anything but a celebration.

The loud crack and pops of fireworks causes severe anxiety in many dogs. The Denver Dumb Friends League reports July 5 is their busiest day of the year- often nearly doubling the number of lost pets brought into the shelter.

Dogs that are frightened of fireworks break free of their homes and yards, frantically running through the streets. Other dogs injure themselves trying to get out- to get away from the crashing thunderous noise of exploding fireworks.

It’s important to note that ALL fireworks are illegal to sell, possess, or use in the city of Fort Collins and Larimer County. That said, there will still be plenty of citizens breaking the law this 4th of July.

Our beloved pup, Kaylo, was terrified of fireworks and thunderstorms. That’s right, our 65+ pound American Staffordshire Terrier was a scaredy cat!

Kaylo’s anxiety would rise at most loud noises- he wouldn’t even go outside to go potty when our neighbors had their roof re-shingled due to the pop of the nail gun.

When he got scared he often hid in the closet, though to be fair, sometimes he slept in the closet for no particular reason.

We learned a lot about keeping Kaylo calm during fireworks and storms.

Summer 2010 051Yup, that’s Kaylo hiding in the closet- in a laundry basket, no less!

6 Tips to keep your dog safe this 4th of July

01. Keep your dog inside

Dogs left outside are more exposed to the noise and light, and far more likely to escape the safety of your property and run away in a panic. Keep your dog inside, preferably confined to a comfortable room or in his crate if he is crate-trained.

Our dogs are crate-trained and they not only love their crates, they see them as a safe place.

02. Keep your dog calm

If you put your dog in a crate, cover the crate with a blanket to help your dog feel safe and secure. Close your curtains or blinds to block out flashing lights. Play calming music in the background.

If possible, have a family member or trusted friend stay home with the dog. In years past we took the dogs downstairs with us and watched movies during the fireworks.

03. Keep your dog occupied

It may be helpful to give your dog a food puzzle, such a Kong filled with frozen yogurt, cottage cheese, or peanut butter. Food puzzles require dogs to work for food, keeping their minds occupied.

We often give our dogs food puzzles to reduce stress, anxiety, and boredom!

04. Talk to your veterinarian

If your dog’s anxiety is severe you may consider talking to your veterinarian before the July 4th holiday. Your veterinarian may prescribe medication help your dog keep calm.

In some cases you may even be able to give your dog over-the-counter Benadryl (diphenhydramine) to soothe anxiety but be sure to discuss the proper dosage with your veterinarian first!

05. Try a Thundershirt

The Thundershirt is a fabric wrap that provides a gentle, calming pressure that reduces anxiety, much like swaddling a baby or Temple Grandin’s Hug Machine!

The Thundershirt worked wonders for Kaylo- he was noticeably calmer during fireworks and storms wearing it.

06. Keep your pet licenses up to date

If your dog does escape from your home this holiday, your dog’s license is his ticket home! Make sure your pet is licensed with Larimer Humane Society and that your contact information is correct.

1 050With a little love and preparation your dog can be as chill as Kaylo!

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  • Haven

    Great post. Wish we could celebrate in a way that didn’t cause so much stress to our canine companions!