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Dogs and fireworks: An uneasy combo

Tuesday August 4th, 2009

By DogTime

Column_do-dogs-hate-fireworks

For humans, Independence Day generally means fun...or at least a barbeque and time off from work. But thanks to fireworks, the Fourth of July can be the scariest night of the year for dogs. The sudden, deafening sounds (what's loud to us is ear-piercing to them) and bursts of light in the sky can elicit serious anxiety, if not downright terror.

Plus, shelters see the highest number of intakes on July 5th, the day after Independence Day, as dogs can easily get spooked by exploding fireworks and flee into that night.

So to avoid sending your pets trembling with fear, hiding in remote parts of the house, or even running away, check out these tips for keeping them feeling safe and secure:

  • Keep your dog inside, and if possible, don't leave him alone in the house.
  • Drown out the noise of the fireworks as much as possible. Close your windows and turn on the radio or television.
  • Make sure he has access to his crate or "safe place" during the show, and casually toss him a treat once in a while.
  • Act normal! Talk to your dog in an upbeat voice and go about your usual activities. Coddling or babying isn't advised: your dog takes his cues from you, so if he senses that you're confident and unafraid, he'll be more likely to respond in a similar manner.

Not surprisingly, many fireworks-phobic dogs also exhibit fearful behaviors during other times of the year as well. Lightening and thunderstorms, for example, can be particularly scary. If you think your pup is experiencing regular anxiety, get help. A reputable trainer or behaviorist can help you both work through these issues.

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Dog days of summer

Experts recommend your dog sees his veterinarian at least once a year. During the summer months, however, it's especially important to be vigilant about your dog's health, as pets are prone to overheating, dehydration, and other warm-weather dangers. A few reminders:

  • Stay tuned to signs of heat stroke, which include grayish gums and rapid breathing.
  • Summer is prime pest season - don't forget to regularly administer your dog's flea and tick prevention treatment.
  • Keep an eye on your pup during barbeques and backyard get-togethers. Corn cobs, chicken bones, and tomatoes are big no-nos for dogs.

The bottom line? Use common sense. Make sure your dog has plenty of fresh water, provide him with comfortable spots to stay cool and out of the sun, and call your vet if you notice any unusual behavior.

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