July 4 Doesn't Encourage Patriotic Dogs


Q: With Independence Day around the corner, is there anything I can do to help our dog, Betty, who gets really nervous about the firework displays held fairly close to our home? — M.M., Deerfield, IL

A: Run away! Find a to a quiet cottage in the woods. if that answer isn’t practical, however, you do need to be proactive. Waiting until July 3 at midnight would leave you few options. If Betty is truly terrified by fireworks, the best and kindest answer might be to see your veterinarian about a psychopharmaceutical drug (not acepromazine). (Statistically, your pet may also become nervous about thunderstorms, which the drug could also ease.)

If, however, Betty merely becomes mildly worried when rockets red glare start flying, try the following:

1. Royal Canin CALM: A prescription diet with unique calming nutrients.

2. Pheromone therapy: Pheromones are species-specific chemicals that influence behavior. Feliway is a copy of a soothing cat pheromone, and the same for Adaptil for dogs.

3. Anxitane: Veterinarians sell this chewable for dogs and cats containing L-Theanine, an amino act which helps to ‘take the edge off.’

4. Thundershirt, Anxiety Wrap, or Storm Defender: Each of these commercial products resembles a sweater or superhero cape for a pet. For many pets, the pressure provided by wearing one of these is soothing.

5. Music: New evidence suggests that music helps soothe a pet’s nervous soul. Apparently, the type of music matters; rock ‘n roll and hip-hop are not suggested. Instead, check out music specifically designed to calm pets. Several websites are devoted to such tunes.Examples are:

Victoria Stilwell’s Noise Phobia CD:  Stilwell is a dog trainer, and host of Animal Planet’s, “It’s Me or the Dog.”

 THROUGH A DOG’S EAR – Using Sound to Improve the Health& Behavior of Your Canine Companion, by Joshua Leeds & Susan Wagner DVM, Published March, 2008 by Sounds True.

A Sound Beginning: Setting the Right Tone for Your Newly Adopted Dog, by dog trainers Julie Dorsey-Oskerka, Pat Rattray, Rebecca Cann and musician Lesley Spencer, 2013 book includes a CD.

6. Redirection: Some pets can be redirected with distracting interactive play or food puzzles.

©Steve Dale, Tribune Media Services