I have two senior dogs, Madeline (age 17) and Oliver (age 15). They’re both Dachshunds. If cuteness was a crime, they’d no doubt be arrested. They both have short legs. But beyond that, they have pretty much nothing else in common. Like salt and pepper, they’re two totally different flavors in terms of personality.
Ollie is subdued, lazy, has never met a human he didn’t adore, and pretty much exists only for belly rubs and kisses. He will murder you with kindness.
Maddie is a high strung, nervous ball of neurosis who needs her space and doesn’t suffer fools. As for liking people…well, let’s just say she’s not looking for any new friends at this point in her life.
Even as a puppy, Ollie had the pace and cadence of an old wise man. He’s never in a hurry…unless treats are involved. Maddie on the other hand only operates on one speed: fast. Since she’s also very sound-sensitive, this makes for a dangerous combination when it comes to fireworks shows.
So for our family, the 4th of July can be a bit of a challenge. Madeline despises fireworks almost as much as she hates strangers coming into my office. The holiday gives her a major case of the shakes, and when the fireworks are in full swing, her panic attacks are just as explosive.
Ollie is both deaf and blind, so he really isn’t bothered by fireworks. But he is very bothered by how much extra attention we have to devote to Maddie that day because it means he is temporarily not the center of our universe. As far as he’s concerned, not being the focus of our affection – even if only for an evening – is akin to animal cruelty. #DramaQueen
So like clockwork every 4th of July, we used to have two very pissed off dogs on our hands. Have you ever encountered a pissed off Dachshund? I don’t advise it. It ain’t pretty.
Over the years though, we’ve cracked the code and figured out a way to make our national holiday a little less stressful for us and our dogs. And because I like you, dear readers, I’m going to share with you my secrets to having a happy, safe Independence Day.
It’s not totally altruistic, to be honest. I’m sharing these tips with you because the 4th of July is generally the busiest day of the year for animal shelters around the country. The loud booms and bursts of fireworks can scare our pets and cause them to run away. Plus, the festive nature of 4th of July puts pets at risk of ingesting harmful food and substances.
But here is how you can avoid all that drama:
• Keep your pets indoors with windows and doors closed. If you have a portable or in-window air conditioner, turn it on full blast. The noise helps drown out the sounds of fireworks. You can also play music or turn on the television to help cover the noise.
• Never light fireworks next to your pet. It’s just plain stupid. Get it together people!
• Don’t take your dog to the Fireworks display. This sounds like a no-brainer, but as my father used to say, “common sense isn’t common.” Trust me when I say, this is never your dog’s idea of a good time.
• If you are home, do an activity that your dog enjoys and will take their mind off the noise outside (hide and seek, training cues, tug, fetch, etc.).
• Give dogs a bully stick or chew toy to help occupy their time.
• Tire your dog out by exercising them before the festivities begin. A couple really long walks work like a charm with my dogs.
• Use calming spray or oils (Rescue Remedy, Calming Chews, Lavender Calming Spray).
• If your dog already uses a Thundershirt, put this on them (the Thundershirt should be put on a few days prior to the 4th in order for your dog to acclimate if they haven’t used one before).
• If you are having the party, make sure to keep human food and adult beverages out of your pet’s reach. They’re sneaky little buggars – and they’ll go for your snacks the minute you turn away.
• Keep them in a safe area of your home away from the doors that lead outside.
• Only use pet safe sunscreen and insect repellents.
• Avoid putting glow jewelry on your pets as they might mistake it for a toy. I learned this the hard way.
• Keep matches and lighter fluid away from your pet. Because, duh.
• Contact your veterinarian immediately if you suspect your pet has ingested any toxic substance.
• Make sure your pet has an updated ID tag worn on a secure collar.
• Get your pet microchipped before the 4th of July holiday. If your dog is already chipped, check to make sure the contact information is up to date.
• If your pet runs away, immediately begin searching your neighborhood and post signs.
• Visit your local animal shelter in person and online. The photo listings on the Pasadena Humane Society & SPCA website, pasadenahumane.org/pets, are updated hourly so that lost animals may be quickly reunited with their owners.
Have a happy, pet friendly 4th y’all!