Keeping our fur kids calm on the Fourth - Albuquerque Journal

Keeping our fur kids calm on the Fourth

Dr. Jeff NicholStartled by earsplitting blasts, many otherwise stable pets will endure almost continual panic this weekend. Dogs may hide, tremble, drool, cry or howl, and even urine soil, vomit or pass diarrhea. Many get clingy, but some escape the home and risk serious injuries.

The Fourth of July can mean fun, food, friends and fireworks for people but, for our pets, it can feel more like a scary alien invasion. (Tribune News Service)

A freaked-out dog or cat needs reassurance, but shelter from the bombardment is much better. Allow an anxious pet to find relief anywhere she or he feels better. A bathroom, dark closet, or an open, covered pet crate, located away from windows and exterior walls, should be available. Unpredictable flashes trigger even more fear. Close the blinds and turn off the TV.

You can cancel out some of the racket with a white noise machine or a loud fan. “Through a Dog’s Ear” is music that promotes canine-specific calming brain waves. Mutt Muffs, well tolerated by most dogs, help dampen loud noises. Promote a calm emotional state with a plug-in Adaptil pheromone diffuser.

A compelling, canine-specific behavioral opportunity will make a difference. With the morning meal delayed a food-motivated dog can focus on extracting his sustenance from food-dispensing toys or puzzles. Working his brain, mouth and paws will divert his or her attention away from your neighbors’ pyrotechnic proclivities.

There are oral anti-anxiety medications that can be given as needed. Alprazolam and trazodone are helpful for dogs; lorazepam or gabapentin is better for cats. A prescription medication, called Sileo, is a gel that is placed between a dog’s lower lip and gum. With no sedation or side effects, Sileo, best administered prior to the artillery assault, can also be given after the explosions are underway. This short-acting “oral-transmucosal” treatment can be repeated every two hours. Sileo is safe when given with other medications. Your veterinarian can order Sileo for you.

Avoid acepromazine. This old-fashioned tranquilizer sedates pets, but does little to reduce anxiety. Unable to physically act out their fear, groggy dogs and cats are trapped in a chemical straightjacket, leading to intense panic. Be ready. Freaked-out pets who are left to fend for themselves worsen with each terrifying event.

Sign-up for a Zoom Group Conference for help with behavior problems on my website, drjeffnichol.com.

Dr. Jeff Nichol is a residency-trained veterinary behaviorist. He provides consultations in person and in groups via Zoom (505-792-5131). Each week, he shares a blog and a Facebook Live video to help bring out the best in pets and their people. Sign up at no charge at drjeffnichol.com. Post pet questions on facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by mail to 4000 Montgomery NE, Albuquerque, NM, 87109.


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