As the highlight of the summer holidays approaches, many veterinary professionals dread the July Fourth horror stories. All too often, pets run afoul of firework freakouts, barbecue bone obstructions, and sizzling heatstroke episodes during Independence Day celebrations. While a tale of woe is great for learning from others’ mistakes, let’s change things up a bit, with the story of a pet family who did everything exactly right to keep their furry family safe from harm on July Fourth. Try to follow in the footsteps of T-bone the English bulldog* during his July Fourth celebration.
T-bone’s tale of a fun July Fourth
T-bone the English bulldog, who was nearly 8 years old, had lived through quite a few July Fourth festivities. As an older dog, he relied on his wisdom garnered from previous mistakes to fully enjoy the holiday, but still remain safe, cool, and calm. Although his family had had their fair share of problems over the years, they had finally nailed down the perfect Independence Day routine, to keep their furry pal comfortable.
- The veterinary visit — Before the ear-splitting holiday rolled around, T-bone’s owners scheduled an appointment with their Holland Lake Animal Hospital veterinarian. At this annual pre-holiday visit, they discussed T-bone’s firework fear. Many pets suffer from noise aversion, with the Fourth of July being especially traumatic for sound-sensitive pets. T-bone received an anti-anxiety medication for his storm phobia throughout the year, but July Fourth turned up the heat with its exploding fireworks, so they always revisited his treatment protocol before the holiday, to ensure he remained as stress-free as possible. T-bone’s current medication had been working well for thunderstorms, so, rather than changing his prescription, his veterinarian recommended calming supplements, soothing pheromones, and a Thundershirt, if he needed an extra boost of calming care. While T-bone was at the hospital, his microchip was checked, to ensure it hadn’t migrated, and was still functioning properly. More pets go missing around July Fourth than any other time of year, and his owners wanted to double check that his permanent identification was good to go.
- The heat — As the big day arrived, T-bone’s home was a whirlwind of activity. The forecast called for sizzling temperatures and bright, unclouded sun all day, so T-bone’s family set out for their daily walk before the temperature began to climb. As a bulldog, T-bone often struggled to cool himself adequately, despite relatively mild temperatures. With his flat face, tiny nostrils, and elongated soft palate, he could not pant or breathe well enough to handle hot temperatures. After they learned this fact the hard way when T-bone was a pup, on hot days, his family walked him early in the morning, and then took him outside only for quick bathroom breaks. As soon as T-bone started panting more than normal, or lagging a bit behind, his family called it quits, and headed indoors into their cool air-conditioned home.
- The safe haven — During the barbecue, T-bone had his special bunker outfitted with all his favorites—a cozy bed, fluffy blankets, squeaky toys, a frozen Kong, and a pill pocket stuffed with his anti-anxiety medication. Over the years, this spot had become his haven during thunderstorms and other loud events like July Fourth. At the first rumble of thunder or pop of a firecracker, T-bone knew where to go. Once in his hidden spot, he soaked up the calming pheromones diffusing through the air.
- The food — T-bone settled in to chew on his tasty Kong stuffed with canned food and veggies. He drooled over the delicious scent of ribs sizzling on the grill outside, but he knew they were bad news. He hadn’t forgotten his life-threatening tangle with rib bones and a chunk of corn on the cob, and he now knew better than to snatch any barbecued goodies.
As T-bone’s anti-anxiety medication took effect, he let out those notorious bulldog snores, and snoozed right through the fireworks, without a hint of fear. Knowing T-bone was safe and secure in his hideout, his family didn’t worry about him bolting to escape the boom of fireworks, eating potentially dangerous foods, or overheating in the hot sun. And, best of all, T-bone enjoyed his special treat and a long nap in air-conditioned comfort, safely away from any July Fourth hazards.
Prepare your pet for July Fourth
Fortunately for T-bone, his family had learned how best to keep their beloved pooch safe during a potentially dangerous holiday celebration. Noise fear, heatstroke, foreign body ingestion, pancreatitis, and missing pet posters crop up all too often around Independence Day, but with proper prevention, you can keep your furry pal safe and relaxed.
Take a page out of T-bone’s book, and begin your holiday preparations well in advance to give your pet—cats suffer from noise aversion, too—a safe place to hide from fireworks and excessive heat. Treat your furry pal to their own special snack, since they can’t sample the dishes from your barbecue. And, don’t forget to ensure your pet’s microchip contact info is current, in case the unthinkable happens, and they slip out the door or yard.
Is your furry pal like T-bone, and can’t handle the pop of a snapper firecracker, much less the boom of a Roman candle? Give us a call before July Fourth, to set your pet up for success with a treatment plan to alleviate their noise aversion.
*T-bone is a fictional dog, to protect the identities of any pets who have suffered July Fourth mishaps, but his story happens frequently during the summer.