Fear of Fireworks
Outside Cats driving your Inside Cat Crazy
Mythbusting Heat Stress in Pets
Fear of Fireworks
Many dogs are afraid of fireworks. Maybe a dog was left alone during a fireworks and did not know where to go or what to do. It may be genetic, or it may be something that has been increasing over the years. Whatever the cause, firework phobia is very common and can range from mild to severe. There is help for your dog. Help is in the form of a plan to teach them to be calm with the help of antianxiety medication as determined by your veterinarian.
When your pet is young do train them to be rewarded for calm, non anxious behavior during fireworks, and other loud noises. Teach them to go to a "safe" spot in the house. Their safe spot may be their bed, your bed room or a bathroom. Command them to the area before the fireworks start and reward them. Give them a bed, crate or in the bath tub to lie on and reward them for going there fast and lying calmly. You can give them a rawhide or kong filled with treats to chew and lick at while the fireworks explode overhead. Heavy beat rock music or Egyptian/Indian music is very helpful also. Print out Butterscotch's play list from our website for suggested songs that have helped many dogs. Adaptil collars are also helpful to reduce fear.
For the dogs that are pacing, panting, drooling, circling, howling, pawing at their owners, climbing on to furniture, hiding under the bed, in the closet, digging out of doors or windows there is help for them. There are different levels of fear, and each level causes some physical pain. The dog may not be completely fearless during fireworks, but they can be more calm, which is much better for them.
Proper anti anxiety medication (not just tranquilizers) during fireworks are very effective. These medications are not sedatives, although sedatives may be part of combination treatment in severe cases. Your dog will not be constantly drugged out. A check up and blood check are needed before starting treatment.
A plan to help your pet have a better 4th of July season is possible with the help of a veterinarian and staff offering behavioral help. Okaw Veterinary Clinic offers exams and consults to prepare a plan for your dog. Helping your dog will also help you. Contact Okaw Vet Clinic at 217-253-3221, look at the services we offer or read Dr. Foote's blog for more help.
Outdoor Cats driving your Indoor Cat Crazy
When your indoor cat sees another cat outside, it can cause a lot of stress and even attacks to other cats, or people in the home. I was reminded today of how upsetting this can be for the cat, the owners and other pets. A client told me about her easy going cat suddenly attacking the other cat and discovering that there was another animal outside that provoked her. The degree of aggression the upset cat showed was very upsetting to the owner, and scary. Fortunately the cats were safely separated and everyone calmed down in a while.
So why do cats get so upset about seeing another cat outside? It can seem like your cat is quietly sitting there, just staring and then explodes into a fury of claws, fur, screams and howls. For cats, another cat looks like a competitor to their space and needs even if they are not in their space. This cat that shows up only once in a while, is not a part of the indoor cat's world. So when the indoor cat sees this cat, the house cat is frustrated by not being able to chase this cat off. Cats are very subtle about showing obvious signs of aggression. Staring is where the escalation to panic or attack starts. So when this cat is staring at the outdoor cat, the aggression is mounting fast. When the innocent bystander cat comes by or a person walks by this angry cat who is quietly stewing sees that movement and directs the attack onto that being since it cannot get to the cat outside.
Solutions - putting privacy window cling on your window, closing a blind or curtain, changing your shades to go from the bottom up are big helps. When your cat is sitting in that window and first notices the outside cat - toss a super tasty treat nearby to get your cat's attention and move away from the window. Do not touch your cat! The touch can stimulate your cat to aggress on you. Do not spray them with a water bottle - that startle is negative and they will agitate them more. The idea is to block the view and ultimately reward them for the sight of the other cat.
If this outside cat is a nuisance in your yard try a few tricks to prevent them from being around. First be sure you are not feeding any birds or other animals around these windows. If you like to feed the strays, do so in an area your cats cannot see them. Plastic carpet runners upside down around your window ledges outside will prevent the cats from sitting there and taunting your indoor cat. Get a large water pistol and spray the outside cat to chase them away. There are remote controlled water sprays or noise makers that can also deter the outdoor cat.
Mythbusting Heat Stress in Pets
The summer heat is here. With that, comes concern about our pets and preventing heat stroke. Our dogs do not acclimate as quickly as we do to heat and they have a much more difficult time than we do. I hope everyone knows to never leave your dog in the car at this time of year - period. I worry even if the air is on in case the car shuts down. Another way dogs easily over heat is walking on pavement. The reflection of heat up onto their body is great so when you walk do so in the early am and have your pet walk on the grass. Walk with them if need be but avoid concrete, asphalt, and tile. There are still some misconceptions about heat and pets. So I have answered some of the myths that I have heard through my years of being a veterinarian:
Myth - If they have plenty of fresh water in a big bowl, that will keep them cool.
Reality - drinking water replenishes thirst but does not cool them off. Dogs and cats cool off by laying on a cool surface to conduct heat away from the body. So they need constant cool earth that is in constant shade not a dog house in the hot sun.
Myth - An outside dog is better off outside than to adjust to the indoors.
Reality - If the indoors is giving the dog or cat what they need - cooling - the confinement will calm them not agitate them. So basements, garages with a concrete floor will be less stressful than the work they have to do to find cooling in hot weather
Myth - the little dogs and dogs with long hair have the hardest time in the heat.
Reality - Big, breed dogs such as boxers, bulldogs, pit bulls, Labradors, etc have the hardest time. Older dogs, especially if they have collapsing trachea or hear t problems also have a hard time and need have limited time outside in the day.
Myth - Riding in the back of a pickup truck is fine when it is hot - there is enough breeze to keep them cool.
Reality - Air does not flow into the bed of the truck, and the amount of heat reflected back up on the body can double the heat load on a dog. Sadly, we had a fatality that was due to riding in the back of a pickup. Sit in the back of a pickup on a hot day with a coat on and see how warm it gets.
Myth - panting cools dogs down fine. As long as they can pant they should be fine.
Reality - panting does cool a dog down to a point then it heats them up. It takes work to pant and that generates heat. It also dehydrates the dog . A dog cannot pant and drink enough to keep up with the heat so soon they are panting excessively and overheat.
Myth : shaving a long haired dog or cat will make them heat up more.
Reality - the long hair insulates against the heat only for a short while. Both dogs and cats need to get in contact with cool surfaces to cool off. The long hair prevents the conduction to the cool floor so get long haired pets a hair cut - most certainly the underside and sides of the body. No matter how silly they look, the hair will grow back by fall.
Myth: the shade of a building will be a good place to keep an outside dog cool.
Reality - the shadow of a building is cooler, but there is still the reflection of heat off the building coming onto the dog that limits the cooling. I have had cases where a dog overheated in the shade of a metal out building due to this heat reflection. Allowing this dog inside an insulated building is far better than the struggle to find shade and cooling earth outside.
These are some of the most common myths that my staff and I have encountered over the years of hot summers. Please share this information with your friends and neighbors. It could save lives.