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The Fourth of July and Our Pets

My husband’s birthday is July 4, but having been born in Mexico, it has little significance for him. Mexico has an independence day too, of course, and Jose grew up in the states, so he does appreciate the meaning of the holiday. Besides, who doesn’t enjoy a good fireworks show?

When it comes to pets however, fireworks are not such a great thing. Loud noises that seem to come from nowhere can be very frightening. Plus, the noise is a little more intense for our furry kids than it is for us because they have a more sensitive auditory system.

Not all pets have a fear of loud noises and thunderstorms, though. My parents’ dog Sandy has no problem snoozing through the ruckus. (Halloween is another issue, however, as I describe here.) Cats are less likely to be stressed unless the source of the noise is in their immediate area. Still, a big bang or popping noise from the sky can send kitty to a hiding place until it’s “safe” to come out.

There are several drug free options available to make our noise-phobic pets more comfortable during a fireworks show or thunderstorm. A TV or radio at a moderately loud volume may drown out the bangs and pops, but make sure it's not too loud as to be disturbing itself. There are even music CDs specifically made to reduce pet anxiety. Provide a quieter, out of the way place for hiding, like a closet, bathroom or some other smaller enclosed area. Open rooms where pups usually hang out with us aren’t comfortable for the time being. (Pets need a little space of their own to get some alone time as we all do!) Having a radio on in their safe place may be a good idea if background noise is the daily norm. Otherwise, it can be annoying.

The Thundershirt is a product that came out in 2009 which seems to be pretty successful in reducing anxiety. It’s available in different sizes and there’s even one for cats. As with anything, it doesn’t work for all pets, so try adding one or two other relaxing methods to see if results improve. For instance, Dog Appeasing Pheromone (D.A.P.) is commercially available and comes in a spray or plug-in diffuser. The feline equivalent is Feliway which is “…a synthetic copy of the feline facial pheromone, used by cats to mark their territory as safe and secure.” Holistic aids such as Rescue Remedy contain herbs, oils, flowers and root extracts providing a natural alternative to treating anxiety. Many of these herbs and tinctures have the same effect on humans. A laid back companion is a must for maintaining a chaos-free environment — nobody likes to hang out with a spaz!

If your pet has loud noise phobia, start with one or two of the things listed above. Then add, remove or switch out methods to find what works for you. Happy pets make happy homes so cheers to happiness! Have a safe and fun 4th!

Monday, June 24, 2013