With the Fourth of July soon approaching, some of us may find that our dogs are less than enthusiastic about the favored national holiday. The Fourth of July for many dogs, is a stressful and anxious time of year. The loud explosions and booms from near and far, are enough to send some dogs over the fence, or out of their skins ( so to speak) . Here are a few pointers to help you pooch cope with the holiday festivities and keep them safe!
- Don't coddle. Soothing, petting, hugging and babying your dog will only re-inforce the fearful and anxious behavior. Best to redirect their thought process. Throw a ball, get their favorite toy and start a game, or ask for some obedience commands and reward them generously for their focus :) Reward confident and calm behaviors! If they hear a firework go off and DON'T have a fearful reaction... big party!
- If you aren't home to supervise your dog, best to crate or kennel them (indoor). Dogs have been known to jump through windows and screen doors to try to get away from the sounds. Better safe than sorry!
- DON'T leave your dog outside! More dogs are lost on the 4th of July than ANY other day of the year! They will dig under or go over a fence if anxious and fearful.
- Make sure your dog has proper ID, tags on collar, and microchip or tattoo, in case they do still get out and someone finds them.
- Try some natural remedies for very fearful or anxious dogs, such as :
Herbs: Herbs such as chamomile are mild and non-addictive natural medicinals for treating anxiety in dogs. They help calm the nerves and induce sleep. Some herbs even contain nutrients that help boost and support your dog's nervous system as well as relieve the dog's anxiety. For example the herb astragalus, can safely be used continually to boost the immune system of a dog under stress. In addition to this oatmeal is known to have a calming effect on the nervous system and provide nutritional benefits.
Homeopathy: Certain homeopathic remedies work well in treating canine anxiety. For example chamomilla, derived from chamomile, relieves anxiety, irritability and restlessness or passiflora incarnata derived from the passion flower helps in calming frightened animals without sedating them. It is important that before you opt for any such remedy, a homeopathic veterinarian needs to be consulted for advice on the proper remedy and dosage for your dog.
Nutritional Supplements: Amino acids such as L-theanine have been found to stimulate the production of alpha brain waves and create a state of deep relaxation. Found in tea plants, these acids have a calming effect on people and dogs. In addition to this vitamin B1 or thiamine and decapeptide, derived from the milk protein, casein, is known to affect the central nervous system and calm anxious animals.
Flower Essences: Flower essences derived from extracts from certain flowers, plants, trees and bushes provide remedies for various mental and emotional ailments. They also restore the energetic balance to your dog's body and mind by removing negative energies. One of there products would be something like Rescue Remedy.
There is also a relatively new product called a Thunder Shirt. Essentially a coat designed for your dog that applies pressure points to key areas to help release endorphins and natural body chemicals that induce a feeling of calm. For more info, follow this link http://www.thundershirt.com/HowItWorks/Fireworks.aspx
- Try not to use prescription tranquilizers if you can help it. I know many people recommend them, ( especially vets) and there are some serious cases that may warrant them, but a tranquilizer will ( in many cases) agitate the dog further. The reason for this is the dog is already feeling fearful and anxious, and a prescription tranquilizer will just do enough to make them groggy, so usually they will panic. Their natural response for ( flight) is shut down, which can cause them to react with aggression (fight response), massive anxiety to the point of hyperventilating, or other unpleasant manifestations.
- It can be helpful to turn on some music or the T.V. , to drown out the sounds, (at least a little). Darken the room for your dog too. They will appreciate it.
Hopefully these points will help you make this 4th of July Holiday just a little bit better for Fido. Who knows, with all the BBQ's and hot dogs, maybe they will even learn to like it :) ( or at least ignore it, like my dogs do ;)
For some more interesting info on dog anxiety, medications, and natural remedies, here are some sites I found informative.