Get your dog through ‘Fireworks’ ….8 tips I can share

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There are many things that frighten our pets but none so deliberate as Fireworks.

Bonfire / Guy Fawkes night, birthdays, Chinese New Year, Diwali, Thanksgiving, New Year’s Eve and more… Yet whilst many of us are ooo-ing and aaah-ing at the pretty spectacular our poor pets are often beside themselves with utter panic.
You see, it’s not just the flashes. It’s not just the bangs. One thing I never realised – and I bet you didn’t – it’s the vibration!

Animals are tuned into nature.
Flashes = lightening = storms = look for safety. Bangs are the same = thunder. The vibration through the air all but sends them insane as their sensitive ears AND bodies pick up this unknown phenomenon.

Just imagine (or remember) something you have never done before – going on a plane for the first time, going in a glass lift when you’re nervous of heights, your first driving lesson, even perhaps a roller coaster ride. The first time you do something like that your heart races, your pulse pounds in your ear, you feel slightly nauseous, yet you know that at any point you can stop what you’re doing.

Well for our dogs they have all of those feelings of fight or flight but no real comprehension – they DON’T KNOW it won’t hurt them, or that it isn’t a massive storm rolling in… they can’t understand and they can’t stop it happening.

I have learned that we have to understand them and work with them to a more comfortable situation.

There are many dogs who never fret and that’s usually because their experience of such ‘danger’ was dealt with matter of fact and calmly. Most though have some degree of discomfort with the whole fireworks idea.

Having adopted 2 Romanian rescued dogs I see both sides. Tess, the newbie at 6 month before her first exposure simply chewed her chew or slept through each night – only a little anxious when she desperately needed to go out to pee and someone set offf a loud banging firework. To counteract this, AS SOON AS SHE’D DONE HER BUSINESS we got her in and instructed her to sit on her mat. No treat, no fuss, just back to the mat with her chew toy. If we’re not bothered she isn’t. We did not leave her out any length of time to become agitated.

Now for the big baby Annie, coming up to three years of age. She was 9 months before she was rescued and had lived out on the cold streets, in fields in storms, no pack, no protection, then months in a public shelter and UK kennels. She came to us terrified of everything. Rustling leaves sent her into a panic, cars going by freaked her out… even the TV caused a panting and hiding effect the first week we had her. So no surprise Fireworks send her panic rating off the scale.
I didn’t want to have a constantly drugged up dog every time celebrations were afoot so I investigated, google, read books, took advice from vets and friends with experience and now I share to you to see if you and you dog can benefit.

1) DON’T tell you dog he/she is a good dog when they come to you for reassurance. This, I have learned does not as we think reassure. It reinforces that fear is good. The exact opposite to what we want to achieve.

2) DON’T try treats and food to calm your dog down unless they would normally be having food at the time. Again, treats for nerves say it’s ok to be nervous. Plus, if you dog is very upset it’s likely to give them stomach pains too.

3) DON’T EVER shout at your dog even if they go toilet inside or go into a room that is “out of bounds” … They are not using their knowledge they are using their instinct and fight or flight = release bladder/bowels and hide if you can’t run. We’ve all heard the saying “so scared he pooed himself (or variants of)”. Well that’s EXACTLY what happens to your dog.

4) DO act as normally as possible, no extra fuss, no treats etc UNLESS your dog is comfortable with that. What you do want to do is say “hey I’m here, you’re safe” but without the “it’s ok to panic” message.

5) DO try and walk your dog, a long walk or good runaround before dusk when you are expecting fireworks to happen. Exercise not only settles them, but sends a calming hormone round the body and so stress levels are zero to start with. A stressed dog to start with will be hyper-stressed later.

6) DO try and invest in a Thundershirt if you can. It will not work for all dogs but I went through literally hundreds of reviews before I paid a hefty £40 out and the majority (I’d say 98%) said it worked for their pet. It works for Annie. Basically it wraps around them like swaddling a baby and they have a sense of security from it. I would recommend it.

7) DO look at using technology such as DVD’s and CD’s that are available playing sounds to desensitise your dog. You play a few minutes every day and your dog gets used to the noise. They work for many and come highly recommended but I had no success with Annie.

8) DO research and use herbal remedies. There are doggy versions of Kalms, diffusers to plug in, sachets of mixtures to put with food. They on their own will not probably solve the issue but combined with a steady routine, a Thundershirt, exercise and a place to hide, your dog should be a lot happier when coping with the fact that we think loud bangs and flashes are fun.

Last year Annie spent 3 weeks freaking out at everything that wasn’t quiet and ordinary each time fireworks were going off around us. This year we have had one night of panic (because I forgot the Thundershirt until fireworks had started). Last night – 2 weeks into the flashing and banging, Annie, no shirt, no herbs, just a long walk and a steady routine, just lay on her mat and dozed.!! SUCCESS with my baby girl does make me smile.
I hope you have some success with your furry friend without resorting to a trip to the vet, but if the vets it is, at least you tried.

https://www.thundershirt.co.uk/

Thundershirt

http://www.drsfostersmith.com/product/prod_display.cfm?pcatid=13043
for plug in diffusers

http://www.drsfostersmith.com/product/prod_display.cfm?pcatid=8098
for herbal tablets to calm.

http://www.soundtherapy4pets.co.uk/scary.html
sound therapy

Love your dog, keep your dog safe and you have a friend forever.

It’ll never happen to me……..Ooops, it just did

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Once again I’m sort of a bearer of sad news… not the worst, but sad.  A friend shared a post on Joe’s Facebook page .. STICK INJURY . The guy’s story follows at the end of this.  I will not add to it other than say that PEOPLE WITH DOGS, NEAR DOGS, LOOKING AFTER A FRIENDS’ DOG, please do not use a piece of tree in any form as a toy for a dog. Throw a frisby, and old tied and knotted rope, a large-ish ball, a dog toy …ANYTHING but sticks and wood.

After over 140000 views on Joe’s story, https://mrsskeats.wordpress.com/2013/12/28/dont-let-another-good-dog-die-needlessly/, numerous views on his facebook page, views tweets and retweets on twitter and word of mouth via other circles I believed naively that people were getting the message.  To read those words ‘it’ll never happen to me’. made me shiver.

Martyn and Jet’s story

Like most dog owners, I’ve been warned countless times that sticks and dogs are a bad combination and thought ‘it’ll never happen to me’. Well last night it did.

Jet brought a stick back and her mouth was covered in blood. I wiped it away and it came back instantly. Managed to prise her mouth open and blood poured out and onto the grass, and I do mean poured. I ran her to a water bucket nearby and washed some of it away but more and more kept coming – easily a pint in the space of a minute. Finally it slowed and stopped and I got her inside for a look. I couldn’t see much but all that blood had come from somewhere and I’ve never seen an animal look so wretched and in pain in all my life, so to the vet it was.

The vet couldn’t see exactly what she had done, but knew it was bad so took her straight in for a look. One operation later and it turns out that the stick had tore through her tonsil and soft palate, nicking an artery on the way and ploughed over an inch into the soft tissue above her palate. I was told in no uncertain terms that it was a miracle she didn’t bleed out in the field there and then, and had the stick went in even a millimetre to the side she would have been dead, no question.

Once I had her home i went and found where it happened and got a few pictures. Hopefully they will make you all think twice before throwing a stick. I’ve definitely learned the hard way.

***Update 25/09/2014***

Jet has been for her 3-day check-up at the vet and it all seems to be healing okay, but she still has a hole in her palate and is still on plenty of painkillers and antibiotics. Back on Monday for a check-up again but we seem to have got off lucky, although the hole might not heal properly and it will take her a few weeks to fully replace all the blood she lost. Glad my girl is tough as old boots!

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