Have a Fear Free Fourth

The Fourth of July is just around the corner, and as a licensed veterinary technician, visions of frantic pets running scared down the freeway enter my head.  Year after year, pet owners are warned about the potential dangers Independence Day pose on our beloved furry family members.  Last year I wrote about preventing pet anxiety on this freedom filled holiday.  Fortunately, there’s already ample information on the web pertaining to Fourth of July pet safety, so I’ve decided to take a different approach.

Most of us know if our pets need special care on this explosive, rumbling night, but if they do need special care…do we really know why?

FEAR.

It’s fear that causes pets to hide under the bed during the thundering firecrackers.  It’s fear that causes dogs to jump through window panes, only to find the outside world is what they fear even more.  And it’s fear that causes pets to frantically roam for hours with no destination in sight only to wind up tragically deceased on the side of the road.  But…what is fear?  When does fear start?  Why did it start in the first place?

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https://www.paulspoerry.com/

As an LVT at Lone Mountain Veterinary Hospital, I see fear every day, and it comes it many shapes, sizes and severities.  Terror, fright, horror, alarm, panic, agitation, trepidation, dread, consternation, dismay, distress…the list goes on.  In humans fear is a vital response to physical or emotional danger allowing us to protect ourselves from threats.  In pets it’s equivalent, but with a major language barrier; fear can be amplified by the slightest movement or sound. scared dog and cat

Both, environmental and psychosocial, factors can cause stress in your pets.  Stressors such as humidity, noise, pheromones, and odor contribute to environmental fear. Unfamiliar pets and people, as well as separation from his or her owner contribute to psychosocial factors.  If taken lightly the festivities surrounding Independence Day can encompass many, if not ALL, of these!

Thanks to newer insights and progressive veterinary practices, fear can be recognized sooner and hopefully be reduced.  Understanding your pet’s fear-induced triggers is first way you can help. If you observe signs or behaviors listed below, take time to record them and the circumstances surrounding them.

Signs Your Pet May Be Fearful or Anxious

Cats – Dilated pupils, arched back, open mouth (breathing through their mouth), thumping/flicking tail, hidingScared cats

Dogs – Dilated pupils, taught skin, furrowed brow, hunched back/rigid spine, tucked tail or high over the back wagging, closed mouth with lips short, lip smacking, yawning, and tense growling/snarling

Scared submissive dog
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We all know the cracks and booms of this year’s fireworks display will have many pets hiding, running or worst of all, dying.  If you think your pet may be fearful of specific circumstances or events, take the time to understand your pet’s fear and anxiety, so it can be reduced and/or prevented in the future.  Get your pet to the vet, or schedule a house call to have your pet assessed before tragedy strikes.  Ask your veterinarian about special treatment plans that may include sedatives and anti-anxiolytics to ensure you and your pet have a safe and happy Fourth.  This information isn’t meant to be boom, gloom and doom; it’s simply meant to empower you and protect your pet.

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For tips to keep you pet safe during this Fourth of July, check out my 2016 post!

Ten Ways To Bark in the New Year Purr-fectly!

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Our pets are clueless when it comes to the holidays, nor do they care about our need to ring in the New Year!  Try some of my tech tips and start you and your pet’s New Year right.

  1. Check your local listings for announcements about Fireworks displays and New Year’s celebrations. (Reno/Tahoe) (Carson City)
  2. Keep pets in a safe, secure place inside during outdoor festivities. Be sure doors and windows are secured.  Turn on the TV or Radio.
  3. Be sure they have current identification tags and that their microchip information is updated.
  4. When hosting or attending parties, keep pets at a safe distance and in a secure place. Festive noise makers, loud, laughing friends or unfamiliar faces could spook your pet.9cff457122ad4cae45c24215e5bc8052
  5. Keep toxic foods out of paws’ reach. Goodies like chocolate, raisin laden fruit cake, rich, fatty foods, meat bones, and alcohol could be fatal.
  6. Schedule a visit to your veterinarian for special medications to help with anxiety or noise aversion.
  7. Take them to a cozy boarding facility with fully enclosed kennels if you’re going to be out-of-town.
  8. Hire a pet sitter or friend to stay home with your pets, if you can’t be there with them to celebrate.
  9. Find a dog friendly celebration and bring Fido along!
  10. Watch Ryan Seacrest rock in the New Year in Times Square together.

By keeping your pets safe this New Year’s Eve, 2017 is sure to unveil a year full of playing and hiking, catnip and cookies…pet friendly cookies that is!

cool-catWhat will you be doing to this NYE to start it off PURR-FECTLY?