Veterinary Assistant Lacy Failing goes over some tips an training exercises to help your pets have a safe and happy Fourth of July!
The season of fireworks is upon us. This can be a stressful time for many dogs and cats. For those pets who are anxious and scared by the excessive noise and explosions, we often prescribe anti-anxiety medications and/or sedatives. These pet medications can be very helpful as a part of your overall strategy to reduce the anxiety that these stressful events can have on you and your animals.
The key components to successful stress prevention for your pet are to plan ahead and, if using medication, to start dosing well before there is any stimulus that causes fear and anxiety. Once your pet hears the noise and becomes fearful or anxious, it greatly reduces the effectiveness of the medication and/or stress-relieving efforts.
We recommend that you start using sedatives or anti-anxiety medication at 1/2 dosing at least 2-4 days before you expect fireworks to start. On the day you expect noise in your neighborhood, you should start giving the full dose early in the day, well before the noise begins.
When starting any new medication of this type, we recommend that you do a "trial run" before it is needed so you can see how your animal reacts to the new sedative or anti-anxiety medication.
Regardless of what day of the week the 4th falls on, there will often be fireworks noise beginning days before the holiday and continuing for days after the holiday. Many neighborhoods experience fireworks at other times of the year as well, such as during football season and New Year’s Eve. If this is likely to be the case in your neighborhood, please remember to put in your request for medication early so that it can be started before the noise begins.
If you are are happy with the medication you have used in the past, we encourage you to put in your order early so that you have it on hand. Please note that your pet must be current on their Wellness Exam for the clinic to dispense medication. If you would like to try other medications that may be more effective than something you have tried before, and if your pet is current on their Wellness Exam, please call us and we will be happy to discuss options.
Historically, we have prescribed sedatives like Acepromazine for many dogs. This medication is often effective, but it does cause sedation and does not specifically relieve stress. For the past few years, we have prescribed Trazodone more commonly because it has anti-anxiety and sedative effects.
We now, also, carry Sileo which is the only FDA approved medication specifically for the treatment of noise aversion in dogs. This medication is unique since it calms without sedating. It can be used by itself or in combination with other medications based on your doctor’s recommendations. This medication can be used for any noise issues including fireworks, thunder, construction, etc. For extended noise events, Sileo should be re-dosed approximately every 2 hours, up to 5 doses per event. To learn more about Sileo, click here.
There are also medication options for cats. Usually, we prescribe Gabapentin to help fearful kitties. It can be used to help calm them in many situations that cause them to be fearful, such as fireworks, thunder, travel in cars, or trips to the vet. Gabapentin can be used in both cats and dogs.
We also carry a natural supplement derived from milk which is lactose free, and is typically used in addition to medication. The product is called Zylkene ia given once a day. Zylkene is safe for use in both cats and dogs.
In addition to medication, here are a few other suggestions you can try to help prevent noise-induced fear and stress:
If possible, travel to a quieter area away from your home for the July 4th holiday.
If staying at home, try to create a safe place for your dog or cat to be during the fireworks. They tend to feel safest in enclosed, den-like areas. Some pets find a closet, bathroom, or kennel to hide in when they are frightened. If you know where your pet’s “safe spot” is, get it ready so it is accessible and comfortable for them. Ideally, you can work with your pet prior to any stress to make this a safe place where they get treats and enjoy being.
Having other noise in the house to help mask the sudden explosions can also be helpful. Some people have the volume of music and television turned up to help drown out the loud noises. If possible, having the windows closed and the shades or curtains closed can help create a quieter, safer environment.
As part of our Fear Free commitment as a clinic to reduce fear, anxiety, and stress, we want to help you and your pet have as stress-free and enjoyable July 4th holiday as possible. If you would like to know more about the Fear Free movement, you can visit their site here: Fear Free
Please feel free to call with any questions or requests.
Thank you for allowing us to care for your furry family.
Diane Boudreau, Client Services.
Timothy R Kraabel, DVM, DABVP (Canine/Feline Practice)
Vice President American Board of Veterinary Practitioners
This entry was updated on 6/10/19 in order to provide the most current veterinary advice.
Spaying and neutering your pet is an important and beneficial thing to do. In this blog, one of our technicians, Cheyanne, answers common questions such as: Why is spaying and neutering important? When should I spay or neuter my pet? What does a surgery day look like? How long does it take to recover from surgery?
Hi, my name is Kacee and I am an LVT (Licensed Veterinary Technician) with Animal Dental Care. I have been performing PDCA’s on cats and dogs for almost 8 years. PDCA is short for a preventive dental cleaning and assessment, which is essentially a dental cleaning without the use of anesthesia. What I do does not equally replace a regular anesthetic dental, so anesthetic dentals cannot be dismissed altogether. A PDCA is a valuable tool to use in-between veterinarian recommended anesthetic dentals.
During your pets care with me, I will perform an assessment of the teeth before I begin my work, also checking under lips and tongue. Just as your dental hygienist does, I will use the ultrasonic scaler to clean their teeth of any tartar and plaque buildup. If they are too noise-sensitive I can often just handscale depending on the degree of the disease. I then polish, rinse, probe, chart all findings as I go and report to a veterinarian if needed. On average the procedure takes 20-30 minutes and the animals do surprisingly well. I work in a room alone, just me and the pet. Because it is just us two, the patient is not distracted by anything else, such as their family, other pets, or happenings in the treatment area of the hospital. I have only been bitten once and it was when I was getting a dog out of a kennel. During a PDCA no one has gotten me yet! Fingers crossed…
In general pets who receive PDCA’s are recommended to see me every 6 months. However, small breeds and geriatrics are notorious for having a higher grade of dental disease and typically do better with PDCA’s on a quarterly schedule.
There are a few main differences between a PDCA and an anesthetic dental.
1. The first and most obvious is that no anesthesia or sedatives are needed for a PDCA. I use a towel to swaddle-wrap cats and small/medium dogs. I sit on the floor and gently lay them in my lap just as you would an infant. Large dogs tend to just lay down and I put a leg around their rear end to keep them in position. Some older dogs don’t like lying down, so I just have them stand up or sit down, however they are comfortable which is most important!
2. There are no radiographs (x-rays) taken during PDCA’s. I am unable to see any pathology under the gums since it nearly impossible to take oral films on an awake patient. I do however, probe under the gums and feel for pockets, lesions, or any abnormalities in the tooth’s texture. If I find anything concerning, I immediately pause the procedure and discuss the findings with a veterinarian. The DVM listens to my concerns, examines the mouth and lets me know whether I should discontinue the procedure and recommend a regular anesthetic dental or continue with my cleaning.
3. I cannot work on them all! Every pet I work on needs to be screened by a veterinarian before I meet them. This is to ensure they have no major pathology present and are of an agreeable temperament. Both factors play a vital role in the success of a PDCA. In addition, some pets do not tolerate even gentle restraint, and others are very anxious with the noise of the ultrasonic scaler. I do have an extremely high success rate, but some pets are just not suited to the procedure. Often the happy go lucky nice dogs are wiggly and the little shy ones do amazing! Honestly you just never know how they will do. I take my time with them and recognize they are nervous. I talk to them, give them little breaks and lots of love. I do my best to treat them like they are my own.
I have been working strictly on teeth for many years and it has taught me how important it is to keep up oral care. Generally speaking, a PDCA is a straightforward, in-and-out procedure but I can also find things that need further evaluation. In the past I have found some crazy things like sticks lodged in palates, fractures under the gums, toy pieces stuck in between teeth, exposed pulp, and even hiding masses/growths. I will not clean your pet’s teeth if they need in-depth care that a routine cleaning cannot fix. As for home care, I strongly recommend brushing your pet’s teeth. It’s hard I know, but don’t give up! The benefits are tremendous!
Interested in learning if your pet is a good candidate? Schedule an exam and screening here!
My dog, Scooby, will be 16 years old in July. By all appearances, Scooby is a happy senior pup; he’s got skin issues and some gross warts, but he seems bright and alert. So why am I having quality of life discussions with his vet?
If a stranger looks at him, they don’t know what those close to him do. They don’t recognize the slow deterioration of his mental state or see the subtle changes in his walk. There are obvious signs of health issues: his back-end shakes and every once in awhile he stumbles. I watch the little changes in Scooby and justify them. “It’s colder today than yesterday, that’s why he’s shaking more.” Or, “oh, those are just normal signs of age.” I don’t want to accept that Scoo can’t live as long as I do. He’s my family and I don’t want to think about the day when I’ll have to say, “goodbye.”
As a member of an incredible animal clinic, I remind myself of the candle we use when a client has made this painful decision. I think of words I say more than I’d like: this is the most difficult but loving thing you can do for your pet. When my girlfriend and I walked into the exam room and discussed quality of life with his veterinarian, I repeated those words. We had no intention of euthanizing Scooby that day or even that month, but we needed to be prepared. Even as a member of a medical team, I needed an objective point of view. My partner and I needed to be able to tell a professional our observations and concerns so we could be prepared. In Scooby’s case, when do we know he’s in pain (and his medications are no longer working)? Are there specific signs that might tell us we’re dealing with an emergency? We discussed the details/process of the euthanasia itself.
During the appointment, our veterinarian said something very important. She told us that she supported us and our decision. In that moment, I snapped out of client and into medical professional. I wondered how many clients worry about what we think. I thought of all the clients who say they don’t know how we do our jobs. And I remembered the situations when we had no relationship with a pet and had to examine it first. What must go on in our clients minds? I want to tell you what my veterinarian told us: we support you. We are always going to be advocates for the animal first and foremost— that is why we are in this profession. But through the laughter and tears, we’ll be by your side.
If you or someone you know is preparing for your dog or cat’s end of life, we have resources available:
And for those of you who ask how we do our jobs: there are certainly cases and days when these appointments are overwhelming. We need each other, our loved ones, or a distraction to help us afterward; but we can do it because when we chose to get into this field, we agreed to protect and heal animals through all stages of their lives. This is one of the most profound stages and we owe it to the pet (and you) to protect them from pain and heal them one last time.
Client Services Representative, Marketing Assistant