Don’t let Fourth of July fireworks dog your pet
Summit County Correspondent
SUMMIT COUNTY ” Fourth of July can be a dog’s worst holiday.
Dogs have the same three responses to stress ” which includes explosive noises ” as humans do: They fight, flight or freeze.
Frightened by fireworks, dogs can chew through leashes, chew holes in walls, hide under beds, pace, drool or pant heavily.
On July 5, many shelters nationwide fill with lost dogs that escape from yards and homes out of fear during fireworks, said Paul Owens, dog trainer and author of “The Dog Whisperer.”
“Many distressed dogs often become disoriented and, fueled by the intermittent crack of fireworks and the smell of gunpowder in the air, run for miles until there is no hope of them finding their way back home by themselves,” he said.
Summit County’s animal shelter tends to have an influx in the number of stray dogs it takes in during and directly after Fourth of July, so it always makes sure it has space available.
Owners pick up the majority of strays, said Anne McKaig, shelter operations manager.
Two keys to keep dogs from running involve prevention and training.
Owners can train dogs throughout the year by teaching them to lie down and relax no matter what distractions take place. People also can desensitize their dogs by playing a recording of fireworks at a low level and pairing it with food.
As owners increase the volume of the explosive sounds and feed their dogs, the dogs learn to accept the noise, Owens said.
Those who haven’t trained their dogs to relax during fireworks and other loud noises can still make their dogs more comfortable on the Fourth of July.
Staying at home with the dog can help lower anxiety and prevent damage or accidents in the house.
Turning on a radio, keeping dogs away from windows and in a quiet area, playing with dogs’ favorite toys or tiring them out during the day with exercise can help calm them.
Since dogs respond to human emotion, acting worried about them will only aggravate the issue; try to deaden outside noises, and be positive, Owens said.
If nothing else works, sedatives can help dogs get through the Fourth of July.
Mark Cowan, a veterinarian at Buffalo Mountain Animal Hospital, said he prescribes more sedatives for pets around the Fourth of July than any other time of the year.
The most common is Acepromazine, which can slow heart rate and decrease blood pressure. Dogs should take the sedative about an hour before fireworks shows.
Owners should watch their dogs to make sure they don’t show signs of problems with the medication.
“You want the edge taken off, but you don’t want them totally asleep,” Cowan said.
Contact Kimberly Nicoletti:
(970) 668-3998, ext. 245
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