Meet Nelly the terrier, our “summer pet safety” guest blogger. Nelly normally has her nose in everything, but loud noises make her nervous. Since July Fourth fireworks are on the horizon, Nelly shares her experience with pet noise aversion, and then mentions her mishaps with water recreation, summer cookouts, and summer travel. The South Shores Pet Clinic explains how to handle each summer pet threat.

Noise gets on Nelly’s canine nerves

Nelly: “When the fireworks start, I lick my lips, circle, and pace the floor. Then I pant, yawn, shake, and hide. One July Fourth, I escaped from my kennel and destroyed the couch, as well as several door moldings, and injured my mouth and paws. It’s like a feeling of panic takes over, and I can’t control my actions.”

South Shores Pet Clinic (SSPC): If your pet, like Nelly, shows signs of noise aversion (i.e., noise phobia or storm anxiety), set up an appointment with our team. We will develop a pet behavior modification plan, which may include techniques like desensitization or counterconditioning. In addition, our noise aversion treatment plan may include complementary therapies and prescription medication.

Complementary therapies work naturally with your pet’s body to alleviate symptoms. These alternative approaches include compression pet wear (i.e., ThunderShirts), and T-touch techniques and gear. Many noise-averse pets benefit from dietary supplements, dog or cat pheromones, acupuncture, or massage. The Fear-Free program provides helpful instructional videos on using color, white noise, and calming music. 

Pets with severe noise aversion like Nelly may require prescription medication. The tranquilizer Sileo was developed specifically for canine noise aversion and may be given during noise events to calm your pet without excessive sedation. Some prescriptions, such as Clomicalm, must be given daily, rather than “as needed.” Daily medications can help dogs who also suffer from other forms of anxiety such as separation anxiety.

Nelly’s “sink or swim” story—watch dogs in water

Nelly: “When I was a puppy, my family took me to the ocean. I barely had time to absorb all the new sights and sounds before they plopped me into the waves. Years later, I’m still anxious around water, including my bath.”

SSPC: We think of pets as natural swimmers—people are taught to “doggy paddle,” after all—but pets need a gradual introduction to the water. If you will be taking your pet to the beach or lake this July Fourth, plan several short visits first. Supplies should include pet life jackets, harnesses, leashes, and collars in neon orange, which is the most visible color on the water. Be aware of your pet’s location at all times when near the water. Pets allowed to move at their own pace will often take to swimming “like a duck to water.”

Nelly’s cookout mishap—barbecue is not for dogs

Nelly:The last time our family had a cookout, someone tossed sticky marshmallows on the pine bark mulch and gravel. I couldn’t resist, and munched the marshmallows, along with the mulch and gravel. I’ll never forget that trip to the veterinary emergency center.”

SSPC: A cookout presents many temptations for pets—and for people who want pets to share the special foods. However, when pets eat unusual or fatty foods, they can develop vomiting and diarrhea, as well as pancreatitis, a serious, potentially life-threatening condition. Also, hot foods can burn a pet’s mouth. Avoid a July Fourth trip to the pet urgent care facility by sticking to regular pet food this summer. To prevent fire risk and burn hazards, ensure campfires, grills, and fire pits are off-limits to pets.

Nelly’s travel travails—don’t leave dogs in hot cars

Nelly:People often think that a pet will be cool in the back of a truck, because it’s open to the moving air. But years ago, I rode in the summer heat in an open Jeep. I was excited and panting, and my collar started feeling tight. I nearly had a heatstroke.”

SSPC:  During summer pet travel, heatstroke can be a fatal threat. In a parked car on a 70-degree day, the temperature rises 20 degrees in 10 minutes. Make a habit of checking your car every time you park to ensure you don’t accidentally leave your snoozing dog behind. Always pack a pet bowl and cold water. A harness is safer than a collar for an excited or hot pet—especially a brachycephalic pet. Carry a pet first aid kit that includes emergency veterinary clinic numbers, your pet’s medical records and vaccination history, and extra pet medication. At least two weeks before a trip, update your pet’s vaccinations to ensure protection against infectious diseases.

Nelly says, “If you follow South Shores Pet Clinic’s recommendations, you’ll have no need to stress about noise or anything else this summer vacation.” South Shores Pet Clinic is your partner in summer pet safety and pet noise aversion relief. Set up an appointment with our caring team, and together we can benefit from Nelly’s experience, and avoid summer pet safety setbacks.