By Green Dog Pet Supply
The 4th of July is a bad time for many pets around the country, but in places like Portland where people seem to be very big fans of the larger illegal fireworks that are so easy to get, it’s often a complete nightmare for people whose pets are terrified of the noise. Some people choose to go camping in remote areas with their dogs, and one customer routinely gets in the car with her dog on the 4th and just drives and drives for hours, around and around the city’s highways to avoid the stress of the night. Here are a few tips that we hope can help if you’re staying at home this 4th of July.
BEFORE JULY 4th:
– Are your ID tags current? Make SURE that every pet, perhaps even your indoor cats, are wearing their tags – fearful animals can often bolt for the door or out of a gate, and so many pets are lost every year! We sell great tags, guaranteed against wear in tons of styles, but in a pinch, many big box stores have machines where you can get tags engraved on the spot. If nothing else, a piece of duct tape wrapped around a collar and a sharpie will get the job done for the 4th of July.
– If you have a new dog, please don’t make plans to bring them to a fireworks display or party that might have exploding fireworks overhead. The crowds and the very big noise and smells of the explosives can all be very overwhelming to a dog, and could create a fear of fireworks or loud noises where they might not have had one before. We also recommend that you keep outdoor cats indoors on the evenings that people might be setting off explosives. Not only can the noise cause cats to panic and perhaps run away, but we’ve heard of some nightmare stories of sick people firing explosives at outdoor cats. Protect your indoor cats by keeping them in a quiet room with the doors and windows closed, and watch the front door carefully to avoid a panicked escape.
–As people generally start setting off a few fireworks in the days leading up to July 4th, you can use these intermittent pops and bangs as opportunities!
Keep some very high value treats nearby and when you hear a pop, act like that’s a really great opportunity for your dog for fun and treats. Many dogs will start to feel more tolerant of noises if noises predict that good things will come to them. If nothing else, at least don’t act like you’re worried that they will be frightened by the noises or they might pick up on that and be frightened. Best to either ignore the noise or even better, act like you think it’s fun and treat-worth– We do have a variety of calming treats in the store that are certainly helpful to many pets. We’ve had great results with each of them, but each pet responds differently to different formulas – now’s the time to try them to see how they affect your pets. Trying something ahead of time allows you to make sure it has a positive effect, and lets you to have time to return one and try another if it doesn’t help during those pesky “warm-up” days where people start setting fireworks off in the evenings before the 4th.
Our favorites are:
CBD Treats or Tinctures:
The beauty of CBDs (also referred to as Phytocannabinoid-rich (PCR) hemp oil) is that they’re very safe to try for all pets. Amazingly, all creatures on earth that have a spinal column (including you and all other mammals, birds, reptiles and fish) have Cannibinoid receptors in our bodies, suggesting that they play a crucial role in the functioning of all life. Our bodies manufacture the substances that bind to these receptors, helping to modulate many functions, such as inflammatory response, mood, neurological responses and immunity. Providing these substances can enhance these functions, often making a big difference for our pets with pain, inflammation, seizures, nausea, and other issues, most notably promoting calmness for anxious animals. Here’s a link from one of the companies that we carry that describes the endocannibinoid system (lots of resource links from this page too). CBD’s and hemp are not Marijuana – they are derived from hemp and are not sedating nor are they psychoactive, meaning nothing about this will make your pet high! We carry 5 highly effective brands of CBDs: Green Element, Canna-pet, Holistic Hound, Austin and Kat, and Social Pet. We carry CBDs for pets that come in treat form as well as tinctures. Cannapet (a good choice for CBDs if you think you’ll only use them occasionally) and Holistic Hound come in handy cookie versions. Holistic Hound’s products also contain medicinal mushrooms, helpful for immunity, allergies, and cancer. Social Pet’s tincture is the best for cats and extraordinarily picky dogs as it has a version that is nearly tasteless making it easy to hide in foods, as well as flavored tinctures (bacon and peanut butter). Your best value is the amazing brand Green Element, as they are dedicated to making a very high quality product that can be sold for very reasonable prices.
Don’t forget CBDs for vet visits, car rides, and for older pets with pain or anxiousness due to age related cognition changes that might cause panting and trouble sleeping.
Calming Treats Containing Valerian, Combined With Other Calming Substances:
Valerian is very effective for many pets as is it physically relaxing, and we’ve had great success with the formulas we carry. People often use valerian as a natural sleep aid. As we mentioned above, you should experiment with these formulas ahead of time. It’s very rare, but some calming herbs like valerian can occasionally have the opposite effect and make them more restless (this can occur with the occasional human taking it as well). It’s an amazingly effective ingredient for almost all pets, but you don’t want to find out you own that very rare pet when fireworks are exploding outside your windows! (One should follow dosing instructions for valerian products, but CBDs or HomeoPet (see below) can both be safely added to these herbal remedies for more difficult cases of anxiety and noise phobia.
Happy Traveler by Ark Naturals: Combines Valerian with L-Trytophan, Camomile and St. John’s Wort and comes in soft chews and capsules for dogs and cats. We’ve had great success with this formula over the years, and they’re handy for car rides and vet visits.
Tranquility Blend by Animal Essentials: Combines Valerian with skullcap herb (helps with nervous jitteriness), passionflower (helps with emotional upset) and oat flowering tops (helps to balance other calming herbs). It’s an alcohol-free, sweet tasting glycerin herbal tincture designed to safely calm animals during acute episodes of anxiety without diminishing alertness. For dogs and cats.
July 3rd by Herbsmith: Valerian is combined with Chamomile, Tryptophan, Passion Flower, Thiamine Monohydrate, and Magnesium (read more about these in the link). It comes in a soft chew for dogs, and comes in convenient smaller packages for those that are only using them for the holiday.
Other Calming Products:
Calming Chews by Pet Naturals, these are very useful calming supplement chews for dogs and cats designed to support relaxation especially during times of increased stress, and are non sedating. They use L-Theanine, an amino acid that’s found in green tea, which induces calming, tranquilizing effects while simultaneously improving alertness. (It’s great for people too, available at New Seasons or your local health food store.) They combine it with Thiamine (vitamin B1) and Colostrum Calming Complex. These tasty chews are often accepted by cats and picky dogs, and have been remarkably effective for many animals. Can be added to other types of calming products if necessary, and is useful for those few pets that aren’t relaxed by valerian. (Also check out their “Busy Butter” a peanut butter treat with similar calming ingredients, great for a Lickimat or a Kong!
Homeopet Fireworks is a tasteless homeopathic liquid formula, best given straight into the mouth or in a little puddle on some soft food. Homeopathic formulas are incredibly safe for dogs and cats with no known side effects, so can be safely used with other medications or supplements.
Sometimes You Need a “Cocktail”:
Very frightened dogs may do well with a multi-pronged approach; one of our managers used a combination of Cannapet cookies, Tranquility blend and a Thundershirt (see below), with a healthy dose of exercise in the afternoon for Dundee (the dog in the photo at the top of the page who really had a hard time with the fireworks) and he finally could make it through the night with minimal stress! Try one product at a time before adding another (we’ve indicated above which are safe to combine with others).
Don’t Forget, all of these remedies can be helpful throughout the year for separation anxiety, travel anxiety, to help a nervous or excitable pet adapt to a new environment, during thunderstorms, airline travel, visits to groomers, vets, and kennels.
NOTE: do NOT use the sedative Acepromazine for noise phobias as it heightens noise sensitivity! See this video for more information.
– Thundershirts can be a very useful tool. These snug wraps can really help to calm and reassure dogs in stressful situations, like swaddling a baby. Click here for a blog post about the Thundershirt, how it works, with a few great testimonials.
On July 4th day:
– Make sure to get all of your pets lots of exercise (don’t forget to play with the kitties). Getting them tired will help them not to be so amped-up over noises. Burn off that nervous energy! Keep them inside – don’t leave them outside as they can panic and run off, or be injured accidentally or purposely (especially cats) by people playing with fireworks.
– Offer dogs something new and exciting to chew on that night – chewing often helps dogs deal with stress and gives them something to distract them from the strange noises. Another wonderful tool is the LickiMat, a textured rubber mat that you can smear soft things on (peanut butter, applesauce, yogurt, canned dog food, etc) and they can lick it off. Licking can be very soothing for dogs.
– Close the blinds and do what you can to minimize the intensity of the stimulus. Turning on some white noise or music, a movie on the TV, or even the clothes dryer or a dishwasher that they’re already used to hearing all the time can be helpful to drown out the fireworks noise. (Be careful about the stereo and TV that they’re not broadcasting fireworks noises themselves!) There are even recordings out there that are designed to calm dogs, such as “Through A Dogs Ear” CD’s for soothing any animal – available on iTunes. Let us know if you try them and whether it makes a difference.
– Consider staying home that night – your presence does a lot to calm and comfort your pet. It’s OK to hold your pet if she needs comfort, as long as you are very calm and happy as well. A few of our customers have told us that they’re already feeling anxious about the 4th – your pets will pick up on that! Make sure you do things to calm yourself like exercising that afternoon, drinking chamomile tea that evening, or taking some CBDs or Rescue Remedy yourselves. Be positive!
If you’re having a barbecue, be careful of allowing pets to interact with matches, tiki torch oil, lighter fluid, charcoal, sparklers and insect coils, or you may face a trip to the emergency clinic. Make sure they’re not able to get into the garbage/compost and gorge on meat scraps or corncobs, etc. Keep glow sticks away from dogs – they may want to chew them.
– If you must go out that night please make sure your pets are in a secure location without access to the outdoors.
– Check your yard the next day for used fireworks before letting your pets outside. They may contain toxins like arsenic and potassium nitrate that can make your pet sick if consumed. (watch out for these on walks the next day too). Don’t let them interact with the BBQ grill after it’s used – a major cause of summertime pancreatitis is when dogs get into the grease trap.
Here’s wishing you a fun and safe Fourth of July!