Friday, June 1, 2012

Fourth of July Pet Safety & Hazard Prevention Tips

Time sure wags by! As Hurricane season seems to have gotten an early start this year, lets take a quick look at how we can start protecting our pets for the upcoming Holiday: 4th of July!

The "What Can I do now in June" tips are posted below.

Bringing pets to fireworks displays is always a bad idea. Fireworks displays are barely safe for us, adults, let alone to children and animals. As a general rule, sudden flashing explosions can be stressful, disorienting and frightening for dogs. Generally speaking there are 3 different types of reactions we can expect from dogs: 1) Great interest. This is dangerous because the dog will be drawn to the explosive device and may get injured (eye, mouth, facial burns are common); 2) Pure and utter fear, leading to confusion, higher heart and breathing rates, fear aggression (bites) and/or flight response, leading to greater numbers of lost pets during these explosive holidays; 3) Indifference. Why bring a dog to an event that is unsafe, not entertaining, requires prudent supervision, does not promote better health and can still be dangerous?

Wag’N urges pet parents to remember that our pets have an acute sense of hearing. In humans the audible range of frequencies is usually said to be 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz. In dogs the range of hearing is approximately 40 Hz to 60,000 Hz. Now imagine how loud that “Loud boom” really is to the dog. Just because a dog has not reacted in the past does not automatically mean that they may not suddenly become fearful.

Mixing children, dogs and fireworks is a standard recipe for disaster and one of the easiest to mitigate. Supervision is key but not always sufficient. Furthermore children may not realize the threat to themselves let alone the possible consequences of them waiving sparklers or throwing firecrackers near an animal. Resulting in children being bitten and/or burned and dogs fleeing the scene, getting lost, hit by a car, ending up at a local shelter, getting burned or permanently added to the list of petrified creatures at the hands of mankind.

Wag’N tips for keeping your pets safe over the Fourth of July holiday.
Wag’N Enterprises encourages pet parents to create an Independence Day safety plan.
The safety plan should include extra precautions needed for protecting your family, your guests, and furry members of the family.

* Never underestimate the power of exercise. A tired dog is a good dog. Although some people will argue that phobia supersede all that, we want to think about how worst it would be if the dog does not receive exercise prior to whatever petrifies him so. More intensity leads to stronger and graver consequences. So plan an active and safe day with plenty of exercise.

* It is best for dogs to get a few walks during day light and in the evening (preferably) prior to the commencement of the festivities. Because it is summer, don’t stay out to long and bring plenty of water. Let pets walk on the grassy area and rest in the shade if necessary.

* Keep pets away from barbecues. Those burgers smell mighty good but rest atop burning coal or fire. Fatty deposits are not healthy for pets.

* Wag’N cautions that open doors will provide for escape routes. Wag’N recommends pets are kept in an enclosed room away from the racket, crated, or in a dog pen hindering access to the home’s main entrance. Leaving a TV or radio on can help provide a distraction and cover some of the outdoor noise. Make sure to remove any and all items the pet may destroy or that may be dangerous to them. ‘To best protect them, try and put yourself in their paws. Look around and ask yourself what could I possibly chew on and what is the worst consequence.” Ines de Pablo states. Leaving unsupervised pets with chew toys such as raw hides, bones, pig ears and greenies is not recommended as pets may choke on them and the lack of supervision may be deadly to the pet.

* Let your guests know the pets are in that room and should not be disturbed.

* Whether the pet goes out or stays confined at home there will be many chances for it to run off or try too. All pets should wear up-to-date pet tags and be microchipped. If for any reason the pet escapes and gets lost, a collar and tags and/or a microchip can increase the chances the pet will be swiftly reunited with its family.
 ** The key here is to ensure that the microchip owner information is up-to-date.

* Once the main firework displays are over, remain aware that neighbors and passersby can still ignite and play around with fireworks. Pets should not be left unattended in the backyard as they can get aggravated, attempt escapes and get hurt in the process.

Never use fireworks around your own or other pets, even on your own property. If you “must” own fireworks make sure to keep them away from the reach of children and pets. If ingested fireworks are extremely poisonous. No matter what property the festivities take place make sure to remove and police the left over’s if you know children and pets are nearby.

* Please read and follow all warning and safety precautions inscribed on fireworks packaging. Always keep a working fire extinguisher handy!

* Late night walkers must remain cautious of left-over unexploded fire crackers and the like.

* Wag'N highly recommends pet parents keep important life saving phone numbers both in their cell phone registry and displayed on paper copy in a prominent well travelled area of the residence. Important numbers include their emergency veterinarian's phone number, the ASPCA Poison Control Center Number (888) 426-4435 and the Regular Poison Control Number (800) 222-1222.

Car Safety Caution
Do not leave your pet unattended in a car. It is summer time and even evening outside air temperatures ranging above 70 degrees can still pose a direct threat to your pet putting it at risk of heat stroke. In order for a dog to cool down and maintain its normal temperature the dog needs to be provided with a cooler air exchange. Cracking open a window is not enough. Additionally that cracked open window is a liability if anyone put their fingers through it and the panic dog bites them. If you leave the window open more, the scared dog can escape and/or be stolen.

How to recognize the signs of loud noise phobia
Assuming the dog does not display any of the following signs on a daily basis, one can reasonably assume that the following are signs of loud noise phobia: Sudden shaking, trembling, nervous pacing, can’t stay in one place more than a few seconds, barking, lunging, howling, excessive drooling, heavy panting , sudden uncontrolled urination and/or defection, shedding, attempting to hide, not eating, sudden destructive behavior may be due to its attempts at trying to escape from the house, car or enclosed yard. On a walk the dog may suddenly start to pull or jerk away from noise.

Wag’N tips for mitigating and resolving that loud noise phobia
What can I do now in early June?
Look up counter-conditioning exercises for noise phobia as it helps desensitize pets to the noise over a period of time. One of the company dogs, Mayday, is scared of the recent TV ads from Target that end with a cute high pitch “bing” type sound. Desensitization has helped her greatly overcome that fear. We worked on associating the recorded sound played over and over again with positive outcomes such as Grade A treats. In addition, we also worked with her, while playing the recorded sound, to exercise on the company treadmill. As she is focused on the repeating walking activity she listens to a noise that after a while is no longer perceived as threatening and is rewarded greatly for it. So talk to your local dog trainers about Desensitization and Counterconditioning training now!

Some pet owners and veterinarians recommend medication, over the counter, holistic or prescription. Tellington Touch techniques has helped some dogs calm down. I am sure that by now we have all at least heard of the Thundershirt™. Remember that any one technique does not work for all and that in most cases a bit of a cocktail of solutions may work best. We are NOT referring to a drug cocktail, but rather technique cocktail. Patience and perseverance is key. Consult your local dog trainers AND veterinarians. Ultimately, you want to fix the cause (behavior) and not just drug it out for the next 12 years or more!

Like most other holidays, Wag’N reminds pet parents that human logic is not common pet sense! Wag accordingly!


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