LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. — The Fourth of July weekend is a time of celebration for many Americans, but it can be a stressful time for pet owners who struggle to keep their furry friends calm as more and more fireworks displays happen in the runup to the holiday.
Dr. Bryan Langlois, Medical Director of the Pet Pantry of Lancaster County and past president of the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association, recently offered some advice on what pet owners can do.
“This is always a difficult time of year for many pet owners,” Langlois said in a press release. “In fact, the July 4th Holiday is one of the biggest times when pets go missing or get lost from their homes because they are so frightened by the fireworks displays.
"While some pets seem to adapt just fine, many others will suffer mild to extreme stress and anxiety over it. That can translate into pets causing harm to themselves and your homes trying to escape the noise of fireworks. Fortunately, over the years veterinarians have been able to obtain new medications and methods to help control this anxiety to make the holiday enjoyable for everyone.”
Langlois said some of the things pet owners can do to help reduce anxiety because of fireworks include:
- Set them up in a room that has distractions such as an air conditioner going or a TV or radio playing in the background. Many cable and online platforms even have dedicated channels now that are geared towards cats and dogs to keep them entertained. Just providing this type of distraction (sometimes with you spending time in the room with them) helps to keep their focus on what is going on inside, and not outside.
- Offering treat puzzles, treat balls, catnip toys, or kongs filled with things like peanut butter can all help act as a distraction for dogs and cats as well.
- If your pet is one that gets extremely frightened or anxious to the point of being destructive or harming themselves, then you definitely want to discuss with your veterinarian about getting some anti-anxiety medications for your pet. These medications make can make a world of difference for your pet in being able to remain calm.
Langlois also said that now, and not the day of July 4th, is the time to discuss with your veterinarian about these issues and develop a plan of action.
“It used to be that vets would give a straight sedative for these animals," he said. "Over the years it became known that, while they were sedating the animal, they were really not taking the anxiety away. Veterinarians now will look to prescribe a true anti-anxiety medication for your pet, and there are many to chose from.
"That is why it is important to talk to your vet about which one is best for your pet, as all pets react differently. Talking with your vet now allows for you to decide which medication is best and provide time for you to get it from your vet or a pharmacy.”
Improvements in the way medications are made is also an important advancement making administration a lot easier, Langlois said.
“Probably the biggest hurdle we have faced in being able to medicate pets properly has been in owners being able to give these medications to their pets without difficulty," he said. "As we all know many pets, especially cats, can be exceedingly difficult to medicate even if we try to hide the medication in food or treats.
"Fortunately, the world of compounded medications now allows us to create these medications in various forms that can be flavored and therefore become quite easy to give to your pets. It is important that you talk with your vet about this opportunity as well since many compounded medications do take a few days to produce."
Langlois offered this final piece of advice for anyone with questions.
“As we always say, if you have any questions at all about the health and well being of your pet and how to help keep them stress free this holiday, the only place you should go to is your local and trusted veterinarian.”