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July 4th Chill Out!

By Fran Berry

Happy 4th!With the 4th of July holiday upon us, this article may seem like a day late and a dollar short, however, A client recently contacted me on an unrelated matter, and casually mentioned that she was all prepared for dealing with her noise phobic dog during this weekend of fireworks by purchasing a ThunderShirt, a bag of cannabis cookies from her local pet boutique, and acepromazine that her veterinarian had prescribed. Now to be clear, I don’t give veterinary advice, however I don’t mind referring my clients to articles written by respected, knowledgable professionals, and so I alerted her to the article by Dr. Marty Becker whose article linked to Dr. Karen Overall, titled Don’t Ace The Fear.

I also told my client that my veterinarian had made me aware of a new medication designed specifically for noise phobia called Sileo which is not only fast acting, but it does not sedate the dog. So while, she was unable to get the prescription for Sileo on such short notice, she wanted to know what other steps she could take to help her dog through this noisy weekend.

I wanted to find out more about her dog’s reactions to noise stimuli and she mentioned that the only sounds that frighten her dog besides fireworks are thunderstorms where he runs into his crate and stays there until the storm passes, however with fireworks, he makes a mad dash for one of the closets, drools, shakes and pants.

My reasons for wanting to know the dog’s reaction had to do with giving her a few different ideas that might work for her particular dog. So for example, if the dog were one of those who tended to pace, it may be possible to channel some of that movement into a different activity like playing fetch, catching a frisbee, playing tug or even chase, but for this dog, because he tends to seek secure places, we talked about a different approach to making him as comfortable as possible. Here were a few suggestions I made:

  • Clear out a space in the closet and put his bedding inside.
  • Hit the switch on the bathroom exhaust fan (closet was nearby) to create “white noise”.
  • Also, increase the volume on the TV. Perhaps sit quietly with him, if you think that he’d feel secure.

Going forward, we talked about a plan to try to help reduce the dog’s anxiety by desensitizing and counterconditioning him to noise from one of the many CDs that have recordings of typical anxiety-producing environmental stimuli. Sometimes these can be helpful, sometimes not. However, I believe she’ll opt for this new medication, and perhaps next year she and her dog can chill out and enjoy the fireworks and cannabis cookies!

I wish you and your pups a fun, safe and chill 4th of July holiday, this and every year!

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