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Do Fireworks Freak Out Your Pooch? Try These Tips to Ease Anxiety

The Fourth of July can be a rough time for dogs. Loud noises from every directions cause high anxiety for your furry friend. There are ways to combat animals' anxiety though, and the Mokena Animal Clinic has some answers for you.

Thunderstorms and fireworks this time of year can wreak havoc on a dog’s mental state, sending the calmest of canines into a frenzy of fear any time something goes boom.

Luckily, Dawn Schaffer, who works at the has several tips to help your pooch—and you—make it through the worst.

  • The ThundershirtThis vest-like item puts slight pressure on a dog, which calms the animal.
  • Turn on the AC and crank up the volume. Schaffer said some people will try to drown out the booms from outside with television or radio noise.
  • The American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals also offers several tips for maintaining your pet's safety—and sanity—for the holiday. 

    • Never leave alcoholic drinks unattended where pets can reach them. Alcoholic beverages have the potential to poison pets. If ingested, the animal could become very intoxicated and weak, severely depressed or could go into a coma. Death from respiratory failure is also a possibility in severe cases.

    • Do not apply any sunscreen or insect repellent product to your pet that is not labeled specifically for use on animals. Ingestion of sunscreen products can result in drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst and lethargy. The misuse of insect repellent that contains DEET can lead to neurological problems.

    • Always keep matches and lighter fluid out of your pets’ reach. Certain types of matches contain chlorates, which could potentially damage blood cells and result in difficulty breathing—or even kidney disease in severe cases. Lighter fluid can be irritating to skin, and if ingested can produce gastrointestinal irritation and central nervous system depression. If lighter fluid is inhaled, aspiration pneumonia and breathing problems could develop.

    • Keep your pets on their normal diet. Any change, even for one meal, can give your pets severe indigestion and diarrhea. This is particularly true for older animals who have more delicate digestive systems and nutritional requirements. And keep in mind that foods such as onions, chocolate, coffee, avocado, grapes & raisins, salt and yeast dough can all be potentially toxic to companion animals.

    • Do not put glow jewelry on your pets, or allow them to play with it. While the luminescent substance contained in these products is not highly toxic, excessive drooling and gastrointestinal irritation could still result from ingestions, and intestinal blockage could occur from swallowing large pieces of the plastic containers.

    • Keep citronella candles, insect coils and oil products out of reach. Ingestions can produce stomach irritation and possibly even central nervous system depression. If inhaled, the oils could cause aspiration pneumonia in pets.

    • Never use fireworks around pets! While exposure to lit fireworks can potentially result in severe burns and/or trauma to the face and paws of curious pets, even unused fireworks can pose a danger. Many types contain potentially toxic substances, including potassium nitrate, arsenic and other heavy metals.

    • Loud, crowded fireworks displays are no fun for pets, so please resist the urge to take them to Independence Day festivities. Instead, keep your little guys safe from the noise in a quiet, sheltered and escape-proof area at home.

    How do you get your pooch through the snaps, crackles, and pops of the Fourth of July? Tell us in the comments!

    Cindy Ludwig, M.A., KPA-CTP July 04, 2012 at 10:43 PM
    I think the original Anxiety Wrap, invented by Certified Professional Dog Trainer and T-Touch Practitioner, Susan Sharpe in 2001, eight years prior to the introduction of the Thundershirt, also deserves mention. Not only is The Anxiety Wrap the original pressure wrap and the only pressure wrap that is patented, it is the only pressure wrap that uses both maintained pressure (http://anxietywrap.com/files/pdfs/TheTechniqueOfMaintainedPressure.pdf) and acupressure to achieve its calming effect. To my knowledge, the Anxiety Wrap is also the only pressure wrap that has been clinically tested in a research study. A recent study conducted by veterinarian, Dr. Nicholas Dodman at the prestigious Cummings Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine determined that the Anxiety Wrap was a "safe and effective treatment for thunderstorm phobia." Specifically, the researchers found that the Anxiety Wrap was effective in 89% of the study participants (dogs). For more information on the Anxiety Wrap, see the company website: http://www.anxietywrap.com, and for information about how it compares to similar products on the market, see this article: http://anxietywrapsays.blogspot.com/2012/02/comparison-of-anxiety-wrap-thundershirt.html

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