Fourth of July Anxiety For Your Pet

By Joe Musielak, DVM

Many of you with dogs are aware that they can have debilitating anxiety attacks to the fireworks on Independence Day. Even though this holiday comes on the same date every year, it can still catch us off guard.

There are numerous ways to help your pet deal with the loud noises of fireworks. Some of the options include desensitization, which unfortunately takes a great deal of time and can make some pets more fearful. Desensitization involves playing a sound track of loud noises such as thunderstorms or fireworks at a low level and gradually over the course of weeks, increasing the volume. An important part of desensitization is to intermittently reward calm behavior with praise or a treat. Again, not all pets respond well to this. Western Washington does not have thunderstorms frequently and they are difficult to predict. However, a pet that has been desensitized would be better able to handle the unpredictable.

The most common option is to give pets sedatives during the period around the Fourth of July. Some pets are unable to tolerate certain sedatives due to medical conditions or age. Always ask the advice of your veterinarian before giving a medication. Sedatives are a prescription medication and your veterinarian is REQUIRED by law to examine your pet before prescribing medications. Anti-anxiety medications and sleep aids for humans are more common in many households these days. Dogs and cats are not little humans and some of these human medications can be fatal for your pet.

A final option that we as Washingtonians enjoy is the chance to visit our Canadian neighbors on the 4th.  July is a nice time to visit British Columbia. Be certain to check with your veterinarian for border requirements when traveling with your pet to Canada.  Also make sure you know the requirements for returning to the U.S. Depending on the length of stay, a health certificate and a Rabies Vaccination Certificate may or can be required.