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?
Dogs are playful. Yes, it is possible your dog is literally chasing their tail. They might be keeping themselves entertained.
Learning about their bodies. Just like infants, puppies are becoming aware of their bodies.
Rewarded behavior. If you laugh at, or scold, your dog when they chase their tail, they take this as an opportunity get attention.
Breed specific. Believe it or not, some breeds are more prone to “whirl!” German Shepherds and Terriers are more likely to find amusement in their tails.
Medical concerns. Although it’s usually entertaining to watch your pup chasing their tail, there are times when this behavior requires medical intervention. A few concerns include:
- Fleas and/or intestinal parasites
- Impacted anal glands
- Senior dogs who have not had this type of quirk might be presenting cognitive disorders
A Behind the Scenes Story
Whenever I tell people what I do for my job, they always seem to reply with: “Oh, you get to play with animals? That seems fun!” In reality, working as a Kennel Assistant is so much more then playing with your furry friends, so I thought I would tell you what it is like to be a Kennel Assistant.
My day starts off at 5:30 a.m. when I hear the ringing of my alarm, throw on some scrubs and run out the door to be at work by 6:00 a.m. Before I even clock in there are cats and dogs telling me that they are hungry, and of course the dogs who have stayed with us overnight inform me that they need to go potty outside. Although we primarily offer cat boarding, we do occasionally have dogs stay with us that are post-surgery patients, boarding for medical reasons, or have come into our clinic as a stray. The next hour consists of me feeding the animals, including our very own Beverly and Peggy, changing bedding and cleaning kennels, walking dogs, data entry to ensure that medical records stay complete, and providing some kitty play and doggy love. Around 7:00 a.m., my other coworkers start to arrive. For the next couple of hours, I am now tasked with clinic duties: making coffee for staff, assisting techs, re-cleaning litter boxes, restocking rooms, and the never-ending laundry and cleaning up after both humans and animals. There is always a mess to address somewhere!
During the day, there is no need for kennel staff, but at 4:00 p.m. I am back to work, this time to repeat the tasks of the morning and also to clean the entire two-story clinic. The afternoon shift usually includes two Kennel Assistants, as there is a lot more work to be done to ensure the entire clinic gets ready for the end of one day and the beginning of the next. I pick up and clean everything, including the well-used surgery room, bathrooms, lounge area, treatment tables, doctor areas, isolation room, exam rooms, reception, lobby and much more. We assist techs, doctors, and doctor’s assistants, or whoever needs a hand. We are “on call” during this time to bring your pet down from boarding, help take carriers to your car or intake a stray that needs to have some extra TLC. We ensure every area of the clinic is clean, including the exterior of our building. We normally don’t finish until 8:30 p.m.; however, as Kennel staff, we are required to be there as long as work needs to be done, and sometimes that is well past 9:00 p.m.
As Kennel Assistants, we are there for your animals always. We work seven days a week, including holidays, and have learned to adapt to the different personalities of your furry friends. We don’t take snow days, and must ensure coverage for vacations or sick days as the pets in our care won’t understand missing a meal.
Kennel Assistants do enjoy the fun of playing with animals; however, we also experience a combination of sickness, trauma, happiness and loss, and we are usually the ones behind the scenes still giving your fur baby one last snuggle before they cross the Rainbow Bridge. Being a Kennel Assistant is hard work, but the rewards of being a part of a successful team make it all worthwhile.