We may love the 4th of July, but it can be a nightmare for our canine companions. The rumbles and booms of fireworks often elicit mild to severe anxiety, causing signs such as drooling, pacing, panting and hiding. The Humane Society of the United States has offered great safety tips for the 4th. I’d like to add advice on easing the fear associated with all the noise and hoopla. Each individual tip may be enough for your pooch, but in severe cases of anxiety, all may be necessary. They work well together.
1. Allow your dog to go where he feels safe. This may be in the basement or under a table. Stay with him if you can.
2. Put one drop of therapeutic grade lavender essential oil in the palm of your hand, then rub it down your dog’s spine. Start at the top of the head and go all the way to the tail. Be sure to use pure lavender, not the perfume quality found at most bath and beauty stores. If she doesn’t completely calm in 3 to 4 minutes, repeat the application. You can re-apply a third time if she is still fearful.
3. Play calming music at a low volume. There’s no need to overcome the loud fireworks — that will over stimulate your dog. I was proud to be the research coordinator for Through A Dog’s Ear: Music to Calm Your Canine Companion, so I stand by its effectiveness. This music has a physiologic calming effect. You can also play it in between anxiety events, when you and your dog are in a peaceful state. This will add a classical conditioning effect to the calming properties. You can go to www.throughadogsear.com for free music downloads in time for the 4th.
4. Some dogs respond to snug fitting jackets like Thundershirt or Anxiety Wrap. The tight fit gives them a sense of comfort.
5. Stay calm! I know some pets exhibit destructive behaviors during these events, but don’t become angry. The fear associated with punishment will only worsen an already difficult situation.
6. Energy therapies are also extremely effective in calming animals. You may want to consider taking a course in Healing Touch for Animals, animal Reiki or massage so that you can assist your own pet.
Many cats are also frightened of fireworks, and will retreat to their own safe places. Cats are lucky enough to fit into tiny corners in far away closets! You can also use the calming music, energy therapy and lavender for them. With the lavender, use one drop one time only. If they are really excitable — frothing, shaking, hair standing on end (gee, that sounds like a trip to the vet) — you can apply another drop. NOTE: Most essential oils are not safe for cats, so please use only pure lavender.
These tips are helpful for any type of anxiety, whether it be thunderstorms, separation anxiety, veterinary visits or strangers coming into the home. The most important piece of advise I can give you, however, is to understand the energetics of animal anxiety. Animals naturally reflect our energy fields, so if we have a pet with anxiety, we must look at what we are anxious about. If it weren’t significantly affecting our lives, our pets wouldn’t be reflecting it. This doesn’t have to be the same type of anxiety. It may be a reflection of something that happened long ago, but the energy persists and continues to affect our lives in some way. Once the cause is identified, faced and overcome, the energy can dissipate.
The 4th is about independence, so why not face your fears and declare independence from them? Fear of any kind increases all fear. It often leads to self-absorption and judgment of others. If each of us does our own work by choosing to overcome what we are afraid of, we can truly become One Nation, Undivided. Happy 4th of July!