For most, July can be barbecues, good times at the beach, and vacations. But for a many dogs especially around the 4th of July, it signals the fearsome sounds of fireworks and powerful summer thunderstorms.
According to The American Humane Society of the United States, "so many pets are frightened and try to escape the sights and sounds that animal shelters around the nation report a dramatic increase in lost pets during the holiday."
“July 5 is the busiest day of the year at animal shelters, as companion animals that fled in fright the night before are found miles from their homes, disoriented and exhausted.
Anxious families often find themselves searching the streets and shelters looking for a treasured family member whose fear drove him to jump a high fence or break his leash or chain.
If your pet is upset by thunder, a door slamming or other loud noises, Fourth of July fireworks will be utterly terrifying.”
This happened to me years ago with my storm phobia dog. I had her confined to my bedroom where she was safe but some of the companies children didn’t listen and opened the door and off ran my dog. She was so afraid that she just ran when I pet is fearful they don’t remember the way they went to find their way home. The State Police found her the following day laying in a ditch in shock and luckily she was returned to me in good condition. Of course she was wearing her ID tags and back then the police didn’t hall her off to the dog pound. That was a great lesson for me and I don’t leave my pets alone on the 4th of July or New Year’s Eve when I know there will be fireworks for I currently have a dog with fears of fireworks. My pets are too important to me to leave them alone a few days a year when they can be traumatized. I have worked very hard with energy work, and other techniques, to reduce my one dogs trauma to risk creating a new fear.
Behavior Modification can work with fearful dogs. It isn’t an instant fix but I have had success over time with different techniques. I currently have a dog that has fears of storms and especially fireworks. She had a large firework drop down at her from a neighbor as she walked out our door and that was very traumatic for her. Some animals are more predisposed to these fears than others. Sometimes you can use a recording with sounds of something exploding and gradually play it louder and louder while engaging the dog in some play or training activity that she enjoys over a period of days to weeks. That didn’t work for my dog because there wasn’t any vibration or pressure associated with the recording. If your dog is food motivated you can couple a favorite food or treat with the increasingly louder sounds, so the dog becomes conditioned to understand that the loud noises come with tasty snacks.
Storm phobia is harder to help a dog get over — much harder — and why is not clear. But if you want to desensitize your dog to storms, be sure to introduce the dog to the sounds of storms in the same gradual, structured way that you would reintroduce her to anything else she's afraid of. That's how you will instill confidence in the face of adversity.
If you have a basement you can take your dog to the basement during a storm to help muffle the noise. Unfortunately many of us don’t have a basement, therefore, go to the quietest place in your house or the place your pet is most comfortable being at. Draw any blinds or curtains while playing white noise or calming music in the background to help drown out the sights and sounds of the storm. Don't sympathize or agonize over what your dog is going through, because that only reinforces the fear. Instead, distract your dog by playing fetch or engaging in some other game or routine that she enjoys. If you stress about their fear they will feel your stress and that doesn’t help the situation. It is very important that you stay calm and relaxed.
As the dog begins to focus on the fun, and relaxes some maybe during the second, third, or fourth storm, gradually increase exposure. Open the blinds a bit.
Sometimes a thunder jacket (available online or at most pet stores) or an anti-static cape (Storm Defender capes at stormdefender.com.) will work. Research suggests that for some dogs, storm phobia is not about the noise but about the buildup of static electricity on the dog that causes shocks similar to feeling the pressure (You'll often find a dog in the bathroom pressed behind a pipe during a storm; pipes conduct electricity away.)
I have had great success with using Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils, healing energy work, sound therapy and behavior modification through PWC dog training to calm the animals. This is all part of my Pawsitive Wellness Center's Business. All techniques can be done in the comfort of your pets home or from a distance You can diffuse the oils or play the Tuning Fork Relaxation Music daily to relax the animal. This will need to be done ahead of July 4th so the dog learns to relax under normal conditions and especially so they don’t associate the essential oils or relaxation music with the fireworks or thunderstorms. Contact me if you would like more information on the essential oils I use for calming the animals with fears.
Check out these top four reasons why your dog might need sunscreen, plus, better, natural solutions to protect him from the sun’s rays! We have a recipe for a dog's sunscreen on the recipe page.
1. Your dog is an outdoor enthusiast
If this is your dog, she likes spending the entire day at the beach, in the pool or hiking the trails.
2. A clean, close shave
Does your dog have naturally short hair? Are you a fan of the “summer shave?” If either answer is yes, than you might want to pay attention to how much time your pup stays in the sun. Shorthaired dogs have a higher occurrence of sunburn compared to their furry counterparts.
3. The dreaded bald spot
Surgery incisions, balding and bare bellies are three reasons your dog will need sunscreen if they’re staying in the sun for more than 15 minutes.
4. The nose knows
Dogs with light noses are basically asking for it. Light noses need extra protection against sun worshiping.
So, how can I naturally protect my dog from the sun?
We will get to that shortly but first …
The dreadful truth about sunscreen …
Efficacy and SPF measurability of natural oils are a constant debate. Yes, skin cancer is on the rise but so are environmental toxicity and malnutrition. There’s a myriad of toxic ingredients found in commercial sunscreens. This toxicity is a big deal for dogs because they lick their skin and fur.
Many FDA compliant, “dog approved” sunscreens boast all-natural ingredients that are safe to lick and ingest. I would disagree. As I discuss later, all natural is just that, natural. Read your labels!
A good place to start your research is with the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Chemical Database. They even have an app you can download to your phone so you can check ingredients while you shop.
Here are some dangerous ingredients in two popular “dog safe” sunscreens on the market…
Distilled Water, DMDM Hydantoin, Glyceryl Trioctanoate, Propolene Glycol, Dicaprylate Dicaprate.
DMDM Hydantoin has a high toxicity rating; Propylene Glycol is a skin irritant and, with repeated exposure, an organ toxin.
Octonoxate, Oxybenzone Carnuba wax, corn starch, Ethylhexyl Stearate, hydrogenated caster oil, ozokerite, Castor Seed Oil, Mongongo kernel oil, silica, Sorbitan Sesquioleate and talc.
Octonoxate and Oxybenzone score 6 and an 8 on the toxicity scale. The biggest concern I have with Octonoxate is that it can interrupt thyroid function. Oxybenzone absorbs quickly and acts like estrogen in the body. Both substances are dermal allergens along with Sorbitan Sesquioleate.
So what can you do? …
The Five-fold Path To Simple Sun Protection
You can’t get more natural than veggies and greens. Whole foods can help protect against UV radiation by boosting the antioxidant levels of the skin. While these foods can’t replace sunscreen for extended sun exposure, they can become part of your dog’s summer diet rotation.
Unprocessed meat contains higher amounts of the amino acide histidine, which helps the skin protect itself from molecular damage through the production of urocanic acid.
Essential Oil Sunscreen Protection
I have an essential oils sunscreen spray on my website that is SPF 4 but it is a good start and the oils are fine if they are ingested so your dog can lick them and it is safe.
I am a Subtle Energy Animal Practitioner & Healing Touch for Animals Practitioner. I am P4EO Certified in using Essential Oils with animals.