Tag Archives: dogs

Does the Fourth of July cause your pet to panic?

By Nikki Senecal

When I was growing up, we had a 125-pound Doberman Pinscher. Many people were scared of Humphrey, but there was only one thing he was frightened by: thunder. At the first sign of a summer storm, he would huddle under the dining room table shaking pathetically. It made you want to crawl under the table to hug and reassure him.

That, it turns out, is exactly the wrong thing to do.

Animals who are frightened by loud noises—like thunder or 4th of July fireworks–shouldn’t be babied; that can reinforce the fearful behavior. Nor should you punish an animal for his fears.

Finding A Place to Feel Safe
Letting your dog or cat find a place where they feel safe, however, is one of the many things you can do to help ease phonophobia, whether the cause is thunderstorms, fireworks, or the vacuum cleaner. Allow your cat to hide out under the bed or in a small space. Perhaps put a bed in a closet and let them know it is there. Leave your dog’s crate open—and throw a blanket over it to create a more cave-like space. Rabbits and guinea pigs should be given extra bedding, so they can burrow for comfort.  Wherever your pet finds comfort, don’t try to lure them out; it could increase their stress.

When you know loud noises will occur, like the upcoming 4th of July holiday, your pets should be inside. Make sure the doors and windows are closed, in case the stress causes your pet to attempt an escape. To prepare for this possibility, make sure Fluffy and Fido’s tags are attached and up-to-date.

You could try turning on a radio or television loudly to drown out the outdoor sounds. Your pet is used to having strange sounds come from these devices.

Training
Desensitization training may work for your dog. This technique involves exposing your dog to low levels of the anxiety producing noise while performing positive activities, like obedience training or playing games. However, trainers usually recommend starting this training before you need the dog to behave. Dogs who are afraid of fireworks, should be trained during the winter, for example.

Find a recording of the noise that your pet is afraid of. While playing the sounds at a barely audible volume, engage your pet in an activity like obedience or trick training. Give food or other rewards during the activity when the pet accomplishes what he is supposed to. If your dog shows signs of fear, stop and try again later, playing the recording at an even lower level. It is important that you don’t reward your pup while he is fearful or anxious. Sessions should last about five to 10 minutes.

As training progresses, gradually increase the volume for each session. Because dogs aren’t good at generalizing, you should repeat the exercise in various rooms. When your pup does not show fear when the recording is played at a loud volume, you may want to try playing the recording when you are away from the house for a short time. When Fido appears to have lost his fear, the sessions can be reduced to one per week. These sessions may need to be repeated at regular intervals over the course of your time together. Finally, during a storm or the Fourth of July, use the same activities and rewards you used in the training sessions.

Medication

  • Appeasing pheromones are available for both dogs (DAP) and cats (Feliway). These chemicals mimic the pheromones produced by lactating mothers that give puppies and kittens a sense of well-being. The result is a calmer, less stressed animal.
  • Melatonin can be used in both dogs and cats. Several articles published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medicine Association show that melatonin has a sedative effect. One trainer I know uses it for her German Shepherds who are afraid of thunderstorms.
  • Other medications, like xanax, can be prescribed by your veterinarian if your pet has more severe anxiety.

Although some of these treatments are available without a prescription, you should discuss all of these options with your vet.

Alternative Therapies
Anxiety Wrap – According to some experts, pressure applied to large areas of the body can be comforting. Although no scientific studies have been done on this therapy, T-Touch and Temple Grandin’s “Hug Machine” are both examples of this theory put in practice. There are a number of “maintained pressure” jackets available on the market.

Whatever you do, project a calm attitude. Your pet looks to you for guidance. If you show no fear, it may be calming for your rabbit, guinea pig, dog, or cat. Have a safe and happy Fourth of July!

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Filed under Pet Tips, Pet Tips - Cats, Pet Tips - Dogs, Pet Tips - Guinea Pigs, Pet Tips - Rabbits

Big Changes for a Little Guy

ACDC Foster Mom Jennifer Citrone with ChuChu, who she is currently fostering

“I want to provide Chu Chu with a fun, happy, positive environment while he is here—something he didn’t have before,” shares Animal Coalition of Delaware County (ACDC) Foster Mom Jennifer Citrone. At the moment, Jennifer is fostering Chu Chu, a tiny five-pound Chihuahua, who was found fending for himself in an abandoned apartment in North Philadelphia.

Chu Chu hadn’t been well cared for. For starters, when he was rescued, his nails were so long that they were almost growing back into his little paw pads. In addition, when Chu Chu arrived at Jennifer’s home, he was sneezing a bit and by the next day, his sneezing had gotten worse. He also began coughing. Jennifer took him to Stoney Creek Veterinary Hospital, where he was diagnosed with an upper respiratory infection and given medication.

Animals like Chu Chu who are rescued by ACDC are cared for by an approved ACDC foster parent in that person’s own home 24/7. ACDC foster parents provide love, attention, socialization, food, and other essentials to their foster animals until their permanent, adoptive families are found. The cost of vet care for the animals is covered by the organization, not the foster parents. Chu Chu will stay with Jennifer until he is over his illness and then he will be available for adoption.

Things are definitely looking up for little Chu Chu and we are certain that he will have no trouble finding his furever family soon thanks to his devoted foster mom! “I love being able to provide dogs with a positive place to stay,” shares Jennifer, who has fostered three dogs for ACDC thus far. “ACDC is also one of the smaller organizations and every one involved genuinely cares for animals. We’re not in it for the money—we’re in it for the satisfaction of finding the animals we foster a wonderful new home.” Learn more about fostering for ACDC. To read more about Chu Chu, click here.

August Update: Chu Chu was adopted in May and is doing great. His new mom, who renamed him Tucker, reports that he has settled in fully to his new digs. He has his own little beds all over the house, as well as friends at the park across the street where they go for walks every day! Also, his adoptive mom shares that he goes everywhere with her in his doggy bag!

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Good Things Come To Those Who Wait

At 12 years old, Lexie, now known as Roxie, got the home she deserves!

Lexie, now known as Roxie by her new adoptive mom, came to the Animal Coalition of Delaware County after a good Samaritan found her on the streets of Philadelphia. 

When she was found, Lexie had recently had a litter of puppies and was having some problems with sores where her puppies had nursed. It turned out that Lexie was quite an experienced momma. She was 12 years old and had been having two litters of puppies a year for most of her life. Can you imagine?! Her puppies would end up for sale at a local flea market and Lexie would continue on living in the same poor conditions year after year. As a result of all this frequent nursing and inadequate weaning of her puppies, poor Lexie’s problems were chronic and she needed surgery to cure them. She also had a few broken and infected teeth from living on the streets and needed extensive dental care. And last but not least, she needed to stop having puppies.

After taking antibiotics for over a month to fight the infections from all her long standing problems, she finally had surgery and had everything fixed all at once. Her foster mom was more worried for Lexie than she was! She picked her up the day after surgery expecting to find a sore and tired senior dog that was going to need a lot of TLC to nurse her back to health. Instead, Lexie came flying through the waiting room door like a puppy herself! She was almost uncontrollable with licks and kisses and hugs for everyone. Her foster mom thinks Lexie was just so grateful not to be sick anymore and was thanking everyone the only way she knew how.

While waiting for Lexie’s scars to heal and her stitches to be removed, she met up with her new adoptive mom, who had been waiting for Lexie to become available for adoption for two months! Lexie’s new mom knew that Lexie was the four-legged friend for her the minute she saw her. She joked that they were both senior ladies and were meant for each other! These days, Lexie, now known as Roxie, is a happy girl indeed! She has been living with her new mom for almost a month.

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Filed under ACDC News, Adopted Animals, Adopting A Dog, Animal Rescue, Animals in our care