'Cause baby you're a...
Happy July, everyone. I hope we all don't collectively collapse the power grid with our air conditioner use. I know this is a real concern but you will have to pry that sweet A/C out of my perfectly chilled, dead hands because I refuse to sweat unless it is by my own choice. If you are a june bug and you are reading this, well, I don't know how to say it in a less abrasive way but, there's the door. We deal with your lazy flight paths that somehow always end up in our faces and hair and we put up with you all because the name implies that you'll be gone after your calendar-based classification. I always think you are flying cockroaches and that frightens me until I realize you are just a harmless scarab looking thing. There, I expect that took care of the problem.
The beginning of July is the hallmark of Summer in full swing, and nothing brings that into focus better than the Fourth of July. Our great nation gets prettier with age, and we sure know how to throw her a birthday party. It's a fantastic holiday, especially if you're in a town like our home of Huntington Beach that has a nationally renowned parade to check out. From barbecues to swimming pools, sparklers to slip n' slides, it really is a fantastic time to celebrate.
But this is the part where I have to bring up the bummer depressing side of things. Being animal-minded folk, we can't have a conversation about this holiday without wrestling with a sad reality that comes along as collateral damage--all of the fireworks that so many of us enjoy have a startlingly bad effect on our pets. I know that fireworks are part of our tradition for the fourth, and I'm not going to sit here and tell you that you should eliminate them from your celebration all-together, (though let's be honest, even if I was no one would listen anyway.) It's our privilege to mess around with explosives that make pretty light shows, but to paraphrase that oft used Spiderman quote, that great privilege comes with great responsibility.
If you're going to light up some rad 'works this Wednesday, can we all agree that we're going to do it safe and sane? No, not just snakes and sparklers, but nothing that's going to set off the Richter scale either. If the instructions on the side of Let's See New Colors or A Literal Comet are in Cyrillic, it's probably not a good idea to hold your uncle's sixth beer while he lights it off in the park next to your house. Leave the professional stuff to the professionals, and cool it with anything loud around ten or so, some of us have to work in the morning, (oh God, when did I get so old?)
According to Marley's Mutts Dog Rescue, the population of dogs in animal shelters often doubles around the Fourth of July due to the spike in runaways. Anyone with a sound-sensitive pup knows that they become agitated, (to say the least), for quite a while after a sudden, loud sound. It's one thing to calm them down after a smoke detector goes off, but after an entire slew of fireworks which often last for days surrounding and including the fourth, a frightened dog will do anything to get away from the noise. It's a fight or flight response, and the dog is likely going to fly right out of their backyard, end up on the street, get picked up by animal control and put into a shelter. Sadly they could be put down much quicker than normal due to the overcrowding. If your dog does happen to get out around this time, please call around to the shelters as quickly as possible, it could be a game of inches in getting your pet home safe.
I can hear what you're asking now. "Ok Mike, we're thoroughly saddened and paranoid, so what in the world do we do now?" Well worry not, because here's the turn, the part where we assure you the sky isn't falling, but if it does, we have some tips to keep it from getting truly catastrophic.
Most importantly, if you have dogs that are going to have an adverse reaction to the upcoming sounds of celebration, try to keep them inside as much as possible with doors and windows shut, as well as the television or music playing as loud as comfortable to help mellow out the spikes in noise. Try to minimize their time outdoors, but if they have to be outside make sure they are supervised and that there aren't any escape routes they can find. Like I said above, a scared pup will try most anything to get past obstacles--digging, jumping, squeezing under, etc.
There are a few different options to help soothe your furry friend during these trying times, ranging in efficacy and intensity. As always, consult your vet before trying any of these methods.
As with humans, lavender oil administered in a room can provide a calming effect to dogs and cats, whether through a diffuser or other means. Honestly, while this will help ease tensions, it probably won't be enough for most pets to feel fully at ease throughout the night. I still recommend it, but I recommend lavender in every possible application.
Natural/herbal supplements that can be taken internally are a better option, especially when taken for at least a few days prior to the big holiday. Two that we at Posh Pooch are familiar with are Sleepytime Tonic and Rescue Remedy, the latter of which can also be purchased at Sprouts. We've had success with a lot of pups with these products, but they don't work as well for everyone, so some trial and error may be necessary.
The Thundershirt is a compression shirt designed to mimic the all-over pressure that a dog would feel in the womb, and uses that physical input to put them in a mental state of being nurtured. A lot of people use it specifically and exclusively during fireworks. From what we've heard, it doesn't work for every single dog, but when it does, it capital W-O-R-K-S works. Another plus is that once you make the purchase, that's all the cost you have to put in, until you wash it with a red shirt and it turns pink with the rest of the laundry.
Another internal supplement that we at the shop happen to use as well is CBD oil. Cannabidiol, shortened as CBD, is the non-psychoactive compound in cannabis that works in the body to alleviate pain, produce a calming effect, ease anxiety, and reduce inflammation, among a host of other benefits. There is a ton of research happening right now with CBD, and I encourage everyone to check it out, as there are a crazy amount of people getting benefits from regular use. What we are focusing on at the moment is the calming, anti-anxiety properties that it has for both humans and animals alike. As with most natural supplements, it works best when taken consistently, but even a dose or two before the explosions start could take the edge off, so to speak. We've been giving it to Lily for the last week in hopes that she won't be a freckled wiggle bundle of nerves like normal. You can administer it right into the mouth or mixed with food, and we've found that most dogs like the taste.
In terms of traditional Western medicine, we recommend Benadryl in cases like these where sleep is the best outcome. While most people know it mainly as an antihistamine used for allergy relief, anyone that's taken it when the sun has already set knows that it knocks you out like an ACME anvil. It seems to have a pretty quick absorption rate, so it can be given if or when things get really hectic for your pup. As with any medication, get in touch with your vet to make sure Benadryl is a viable option before administering. Our rule of thumb is 1mg per pound of dog. This is our favorite option only because of its fantastic effectiveness and its safety when given sparingly, and it's not a bad idea to also have a stash on hand in case of unforeseen events.
There are prescription medicines for situations such as fireworks, but it's hard to recommend them not only since I'm not a vet, but also since we always try to exhaust natural options before going prescription. If you feel that your dog needs something stronger than over the counter treatments, please contact your favorite medical professional as soon as possible.
Thanks for sticking with us, I know this was a long one. If you have any questions regarding what we brought up here, please don't hesitate to give us a call at the shop. We'd love to talk with you.
Be safe, make sure your pups are safe, eat less meat, and happy birthday America. We love you.