It’s Almost the Fourth of July! Do You Have Your Pet Appeasement Program Prepared?
I know it’s two weeks away but still … pets are more than capable of suffering for weeks in advance and on the back end of the dreaded Fourth of July holiday. Because God knows the bottle rockets and firecrackers are — frustratingly — already in evidence.
Time was I loved "The Fourth." Who can resist cherry pies, chilled white wine and picnics on the beach? But suburban Miami’s changed all that. The endless stream of fireworks, commencing in June (now-ish) and ending no sooner than mid-July, have a way of dampening all of my patriotic spirit.
After all, I’m an animal lover first and a patriot second — as it should be, or so my personal ethos goes — so why wouldn’t I get all stressed out over how my pets and patients will inevitably react to the slings and arrows of outrageous fireworks?
Which is why I worry — perhaps unduly — over how best to mitigate our pets’ angst during this acoustically over-the-top time of year. Because we all know they do stress. Even the most stalwart pets among our ranks will cock their heads and perk their ears, rising once or twice more than is typical to drink in the oddness of the evening before submitting to a recumbently unsettled state.
And then there’s the sensitive soul that needs to be stroked during this calamitous time. Bombs are a-falling as best they can surmise. If you were a dog wouldn’t you assume the end of the world was nigh? I would, I think.
But there is something you can do to allay their fears and ease the anxiety of the inevitable game-day rumpus. You can resort to two of my favorite non-drug tricks: (1) confinement, and (2) auditory stimulation.
Though most of my concerned clients will call and ask for drugs designed to knock their buddies silly, I subscribe to a different approach. Give me Mozart — or Star Wars — before bringing out the big guns (pharmaceutically speaking, that is).
You see, simple Mozart piano tinklings have been proven to relax dogs during times of duress. These deceptively simple tunes have a way of chilling them out in ways you’d not expect, unless you were raised by music-loving freakadillos, like I was.
But sometimes not even Mozart’s genius is enough. Sometimes what’s needed is a good dose of homeopathy. You know, giving the same medicine at a different volume so that Fido responds with less excitability. Hence, why I sometimes recommend the "play Star-Wars LOUD all day long so that Fred forgets he might be afraid of the silly bottle rocket outside the window" approach.
This latter trick works. Really. I tried it back in '96 with two over-it boxers one crazed 4th of July in Philly and never looked back. But seeing as I’m a woman of science, I guess I’d rather go on the record as siding with the kind of proven stuff you’d see in a peer-reviewed journal.
Personally, I’m equally satisfied by Mozart and Spielberg — insofar as my dog’s comfort goes. But whichever you choose, be sure to take note of the following: Serious volume is the key to success. Nothing less than "I-should-have-bought-ear-plugs" volume will suffice for the severest sufferers amongst us.
Dr. Patty Khuly