Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Helping dogs with Severe Phobias during Fireworks

The fourth of July is fast approaching and a lot of our canine companions can have severe anxiety during this time.  The ideal way to treat this phobia is training with behavior modification techniques.  However, since we are so close to the holiday this is not possible we can use medications to help our pets deal with the situation.  There are some medications that are over the counter that can be used such as Benadryl one 25 mg tablet for 25 pounds and/or melatonin one 3 mg tablet for 25 pounds. Another option to use is Valerian 200 mg for a small dog and 400-600 mg for any dog over 50 lbs. Some of our furry friends will need stronger medications such as anti-anxiety medications.  Thunder shirts may be used for this situation; however they will only work in approximately 30% of dogs. Another concern this time of year is overheating with excitement, please be weary hot days with our pets and make sure there is always shade and water available.  Overheating can be a life threatening event.  Also avoid allowing your pets get near any fireworks.  Some are toxic if chewed even after being set off. 

Some other summer tips to keep our companions healthy:

·         Visit your veterinarian: with our dogs spending more time outdoors there is more possibility for infectious diseases to be transmitted.  Heartworm disease is an issue all year around however is more prevalent during the summer months.  Our pets, both dogs and cats, should be on heartworm prevention all year around.  There are other infectious disease our animals are prone to please contact your veterinarian for more information.

·         Keep Cool: Dogs and cats can become dehydrated very quickly so make sure they have plenty of water and a shady place to rest.  Do not allow for your dog to linger on hot asphalt, this may cause burns to his/her paw pads. It is very important to never leave our animals unattended in a parked vehicle.  Cars, even with windows open can lead to heatstroke or death for your animal. Symptoms of overheating in pets include: increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, excessive panting or difficulty breathing, weakness, seizures, and elevated body temperature.  Dogs that are more susceptible to heat stroke include: older dogs, overweight dogs, or animals with lung or heart disease.  Also brachiocephalic dog breeds (short muzzle breeds: bulldogs, pugs, etc.) are more susceptible to overheating.

·         Lawn and flea and tick products: Most flea and tick products cannot be used for both dogs and cats.  Never give a cat a dog flea or tick medications, this can lead to seizures and even death.  Some lawn products can be harmful to cats and dogs if ingested so make sure they are out of reach.

·         Cookouts.  Summertime is great for get together however it is very important to remember that some foods that we eat can be very toxic to our pets.  Make sure to avoid raisins, grapes, onions, chocolate, products with sweetener xylitol, and alcoholic beverages.  Remember even one new meal can cause severe digestive issues.

·         Pool safety: Do not leave your dogs unsupervised around pools or lakes not all dogs are good swimmers.  Keep your dog from drinking pool water because it contains chlorine and other chemicals that can cause stomach upset.  Make sure they do not have access to concentrated pool chemicals because these are highly toxic to animals if ingested.

·         Fireworks: Do not ignite fireworks around pets.  Exposure to the lit fireworks can be harmful via burns or trauma.  Also many fireworks contain substances that are toxic to dogs if ingested.

·         High rise syndrome: High rise syndrome occurs when animals fall from windows or doors and are seriously or fatally injured.  Keep all windows and doors in your home secured.

If any of the options above are needed for your dog, or you have any questions, please contact your regular veterinarian or Michigan City Animal Hospital at 219-879-4191 before the 4th gets here. 

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