Ash Veterinary Clinic


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4th of July Hazards

If there is one holiday that is unpopular at veterinary hospitals, it is the Fourth of July because the fireworks and other celebrations of can trigger pet care tragedies, which means a flow of lost, sick or injured pets.

                Loud noises startle and distress pets, because they have very sensitive hearing. Scared pets have been known to jump out of apartment windows, leap over or dig under fences, or chew their skin until it is raw. They may also bolt out an open door to become lost or hit by a car. Even the ones who just tremble in terror may be safe, but they are also miserable.

                While most of the danger is on the actual holiday, the noise and parties can continue for days, especially when the Fourth falls midweek. Many people take this holiday as an opportunity to let off steam and do not just keep the celebration to the one day.

                The best defense against Fourth of July problems is a good offense started weeks or months before summer. Professional trainers and behaviorists start socializing dogs and making every potentially negative experience — such as fireworks and thunderstorms — into something rewarding. If a negative experience comes with tasty treats, then your pet is going to at least tolerate it, if not welcome it. This works best when started as a puppy, but do not give up hope if your dog is already an adult. It is possible to teach an old dog new tricks!

                One way to help your pet is to expose him or her to commercial recordings of thunderstorms or fireworks and play them at increasing volume. Play the recordings at low volume — recognizing how acute a pet’s hearing is — and give praise and treats. As the volume and duration are increased during subsequent sessions, give your pet a really tasty treat so he has the expectation of a repeat treat. Initially, play the recording for five minutes, eventually leaving it on during daily activities as “normal” background noise.

                That is fine for next year, but what about this year’s holiday? Provide pets with safe hiding spaces inside your home during the holiday fireworks or a storm. Dogs and cats who are comfortable in crates can find them a good place to ride out the noise, especially if the crate is put in a quiet, darkened part of the house.

                Some pets are so unhinged by noise that veterinary-prescribed medications are needed to keep them calm. There are many medications that are well-tolerated by most pets. Remember to give the medications as recommended — they work best before the “rockets’ red glare” begins.

                Pet-supply retailers offer additional ways to calm your pet, such as with pressure shirts for animals, which work off the same principles that calm autistic children. The Thundershirt and The Anxiety Wrap are two such products for dogs and cats. The Calming Cap, which reduces sensory input, is another product meant to ease anxious pets. Finally, for dogs there’s the “Through a Dog’s Ear” series of music CDs that are clinically proven not to cover noise, but to use sound to calm canines.

                Make sure your pet isn’t a casualty of Independence Day. If nothing else, keep your pet inside until the celebrations are over. This will help make the holiday less stressful for you and your pet. If you have any questions or need to schedule an appointment, please contact us at Ash Veterinary Clinic in Carleton at 734-782-2827, or

Dr. Toinette Strusinski-Broschay is the owner of Ash Veterinary Clinic in Carleton.

[4:06:25 PM] Dianne Raftopoulos: