Fourth of July Celebrations Can Be a Pet’s Worst Nightmare

Greetings! Kona’s mum is at the keyboard now.

I can’t believe it’s already July. Where the heck did June go? Fourth of July celebrations are coming up quickly – on Saturday – which means the beach community I live in is going to sound a like a war zone. I’ve never actually lived in a war zone, but based on movies I’ve seen and what is shown on the news, it sounds pretty similar.

Like many pets, Kona and his two feline brothers, Pumpkin and Scout, are terrified of the explosions that erupt in our neighborhood on this festive day.

Too distracted by the explosions to notice he has kittens in his tail.

Too distracted by the explosions to notice he has kittens in his tail.

I took this photo last Fourth of July, when the kittens were just weeks old. They were too young to know what was going on, but as you can see by the look on Kona’s face, he was not having a good time. Normally, my pup would never tolerate two kittens to curling up in his tail or try to nurse from him (though it was pretty cute to watch).

I don’t know what it is about being at the beach that drives people to light up their M-80’s, firecracker bricks, and the wide variety of other explosives they can get their hands on. Perhaps it has something to do with the swarms of out-of-town visitors who come to watch the fireworks show at the pier, while drinking large quantities of alcohol. Though I’m sure plenty of locals participate in the festivities, I know many of my neighbors and friends stay away from downtown on this particular holiday. Luckily, this year there is supposedly “Zero Tolerance” for illegal fireworks, which means the PoPo will be cruising and flying around all night in their helicopters.

The cats are already getting their first memorable taste of the firecracker frenzy and have spent some time under the bed the past few nights. Kona seems to be handling it fairly well so far, as long as he can be right next to us.

Last year, out of compassion for my shivering pup, I broke down and got tranquilizers from his vet. I wasn’t totally comfortable with sedating him, but we were planning on staying home and I knew I would be able to keep an eye on him. I gave him a half-dose, and it did seem to help for a while. He was groggy but not totally knocked out.

Though we plan on staying close to home again this year, I’m not going to give out sedatives. After doing some research, I’ve found quite a few articles that say tranquilizers do not actually alleviate the anxiety, it just makes the dog unable to react to it. According to this article from pethealthcaregazette.com, it might actually worsen the fear:

Why Acepromazine is Not Appropriate for Fearful or Anxious Dogs

To be perfectly honest, acepromazine does have a place in veterinary medicine and I do use it as a premedication prior to surgery and in certain other situations. However, acepromazine is not an anxiolytic medication.

What that means is that acepromazine does not relieve fear or anxiety. Essentially, what happens when your give a fearful or anxious dog acepromazine is that the dog will become “sedated” and it may even appear to you that it seems to be helping because your dog is unable to react to the things that scare him. However, that does not mean he does not continue to be scared.

Let’s think about that for a moment. What would that feel like? To be so scared of something that you want to run away from it but be unable to react or respond to the object because of medication given to you by someone you trust to care for you?”

In many cases, medicating your dog with acepromazine may actually make his fear worse. That makes sense when you think about it. Imagine being frightened of something and then being immobilized and forced to endure the fright without being able to react to it? Of course, that’s going to intensify your fear.”

So now what? I’ve heard that some people have used melatonin, so I did an internet search under “melatonin and dogs” and read that this drug can safely helps dogs with anxiety. According to this article from whole-dog-journal.com, melatonin has been used successfully with dogs who are thunder-phobic.

Melatonin is in a class of drugs known as neuro-hormones, and, though it is not a tranquilizer, has sedative properties. It can also act as an anti-convulsant, treatment for separation anxiety, and other stressful situations involving noise anxieties like fireworks.

The dosage recommendation according to melatoninfaq.com, is this: 1 mg for dogs that weigh less than 10 lbs, 1.5 mg for dogs that weigh between 10 to 25 lbs, 3 mg for dogs that weigh between 26 to 100 lbs, and 3 to 6 mg for dogs that weigh over 100 lbs.

Of course, it is always best to check with a veterinarian before giving our animals any pills. I am not a veterinarian or animal expert by any means! I would be very interested in hearing from anyone who has tried melatonin for their dogs, or knows more about it.

Many animal shelters report that more dogs and cats end up in their shelters on this holiday than any other time of the year. The loud explosions really are a war zone for animals – they can panic and run away. I plan on doing my part to help Kona, Pumpkin and Scout stay out of harms way (and out of the animal shelter) by following the suggestions I’ve listed below. Though I don’t have my guys microchipped yet, they are all wearing collars with ID, and I do plan on keeping them locked up in the house. If you all have any other ideas, I’d love to hear about them!

  • Leave Your Pet at Home – resist the urge to take them to Independence Day festivities.
  • Provide a Safe Spot from Loud Noises. (Kona likes to hide in the bathroom or closet, and the cats stay under the bed)
  • Have Your Pet Properly Identified (in addition to microchipping, having a tag with a phone number is also good for more immediate reunions)
  • NEVER Use Fireworks Around Pets (DUH!)
  • Keep Emergency Contact Info Handy (I have the phone number on our refrigerator)

Last but not least, for all who are celebrating Independence Day, I want to wish you a fun-filled, safe and sane holiday!

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10 thoughts on “Fourth of July Celebrations Can Be a Pet’s Worst Nightmare

  1. Pawsome info! I did not know about melatonin. My last dog was so terrified, I gave him Bach’s Rescue Remedy and put him in a Thundershirt which helped somewhat but the key is to administer before the fireworks start. Trust me, there is no shortage of dumb people be they at the beach or in the mountains. Seems like they’re much like ants at a picnic…always there! Sigh. Here’s hoping for a safe and happy 4th of July.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Can’t believe how elated I am – just found out that the neighbor from hell who always spends a fortune on fireworks has left for the beach for the holiday! I think we will be able to survive this holiday weekend after all. in the past I would always bunker down with the boys in one room and we’d sit together. This year I just might not have to! #hallelujah Nice article, so happy I found you 🙂 Be safe and enjoy your holiday.

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    • Thanks Cathy! You are sooooo lucky your neighbor is going away. Our neighbors just got back from vacation and have started early on their pyrotechnics. 😦 What ever happened to simple fountains and sparklers? Cheers to a pup and kitty friendly holiday for all!

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  3. Fortunately fireworks are banned here in SA, except for a few official public displays – luckily miles away form us. I had one dog who really suffered with loud noises -thunder etc and I used a homeopathic Rescue remedy for her, which helped a little bit. Hope all goes well for you this year 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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