Fireworks, the Fourth, and noise phobic pets
It’s the Fourth of July and all you U.S. readers know exactly what that means…NOISE! To suitably celebrate the anniversary of our country’s violent birth our neighbors will be out on their lawns sending up illegal flares likely to ignite nearby tinder and frighten our pets into sub-couch submission.
It’s an annual feast for the pyromaniacal among us. Too bad our noise phobic creatures can’t understand why we humans feel the need to make things go BOOM! by way of celebrating our independence.
I’m lucky. My pets seem largely unstressed by the far-away noises, as they do during most of our thunderstorms. But when a nearby neighbor sets off a big one the effect is akin to a lightning strike in my back yard:
Vincent (my young, dumb-blonde Frenchie) looks around for Sophie (my sweet, old sickie) so he can fiercely redirect his noise-reactive aggression at the weakest link in the family chain.
Yesterday was a whopper of a day: Not only did my weekly surgery day coincide with the day before a long weekend, but this was the long weekend before the busiest travel week of the summer…which also happens to coincide with the noisiest day of the year.
OK so it was poor planning on my part—but I truly hadn’t considered the added stress of the noise phobics’ custodians on my phone calls.
So there I was—on speakerphone, elbow deep in a big-dog spay—trying to explain the potentially untoward effects of a powerful prescription anti-anxiety medication (this one for humans who suffer severe psychosis) on the household pets:
“You really don’t want to try this medication on them. I promise you that a rough night with noise-distressed dogs is nothing compared to the angst of a holiday spent in the ER and the expense of a week on a mechanical ventilator in the doggie-ICU.”
For some reason it’s always a last-minute issue, this question of medicating of pets for the Fourth. And I can understand that, really I can. After all, I stood in line at the bank yesterday, too, shuffling my feet with the lunchtime throngs while attempting a last-minute deposit before the holiday bank break. Some things elude us until they’re almost upon us, right?
But meds? That’s a tough one. Who knows what untoward effects a sedative may have on an animal it’s never been unleashed on? It usually takes lots of discussion, examination and reviews of current bloodwork and the like before I can feel comfortable supplying these anti-anxiety drugs.
Sure, thunderstorm phobia and travel anxiety issues are akin to the consideration of fireworks-phobias. But in the former cases the animal and his owner are usually before me for the dialogue—not on some telephone via speakerphone piped into my OR for a last-minute round of what-should-I-do’s.
And I feel for them, really I do. But sedatives should not be popped like Pez candies—especially not when the entire family plans to be out enjoying the festivities instead of watching Fido spin his pharmacologically-induced wheels for the very first time.
I’m kind of funny about this, maybe. But the last thing I want is to see a dog suffer well beyond what he might’ve had he lived through the firecrackers sober. My pets suffer, too—really, I get it—but the time to wring your hands over the issue is NOT two hours before your vet’s place closes for the long weekend.