Helping Your Pets Cope with Fireworks

Sycamore Vet: Love Unleashed

The veterinarians at Sycamore Vet are experts in their fields when it comes to safeguarding a pet’s health and comfort.

While humans flock to fireworks shows to marvel at the lights and noise, dogs often have unpleasant physical reactions to sudden loud noises, which can be quite traumatizing.

Every Fourth of July weekend, the Conrad family has an annual neighborhood cookout. Their 11-year-old cocker spaniel/beagle mix, Buddy, loves the party. Running around the yard with the neighborhood children, burying stolen hot dogs in their hydrangea garden — it’s the perfect day for any dog.

However, Independence Day always leads to a perilous night for Buddy. Despite his calm, friendly demeanor during the day, Buddy becomes very stressed, anxious, and clingy as soon as the evening fireworks display begins. Misunderstanding the loud, unexpected noises and flashes of light, Buddy paces around the yard and becomes uncharacteristically nervous. Last year, he even jumped the fence and spent several hours lost in the neighborhood.

According to Sycamore Vet’s Dr. Christina Martin, Buddy, who is one of her patients, isn’t the only pup who isn’t fond of fireworks or other loud situations, like summer storms.

“This is a common issue for many dog owners, and we actually have a name for it — canine noise aversion,” said Martin, a practicing veterinarian in the Midlothian community for more than 15 years. “While humans flock to fireworks shows to marvel at the lights and noise, dogs often have unpleasant physical reactions to sudden loud noises, which can be quite traumatizing.”

Canine noise aversion is a term veterinarians use to express a wide spectrum of a dog’s anxiety and fear-based behaviors associated with noises such as fireworks, thunder, celebrations, construction work, traffic, and other noisy events.

“Noise aversion causes both mental and physical distress for dogs and in some cases can actually lead to a serious level of suffering,” Martin says.

However, there are some preventative practices pet owners can take to lessen the impact of predictable noisy situations, like fireworks shows or storms. Martin sometimes suggests medical treatments for severe cases, like Buddy’s.

“In Buddy’s case, I prescribed a brand of dexmedetomidine called Sileo, which is a non-sedative gel that you place between the dog’s cheek and gum,” Martin said. “With proper training, it’s easy for owners to administer and it works quickly to helps dogs better cope with loud situations while remaining fully functional and interactive.”

In extreme cases, Martin sometimes prescribes light sedatives, but said many cases of canine noise aversion can be helped with commonsense non-medical…

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