Tips For July 4th

Reprinted via Valli Parthasarathy, PhD, DVM, ACVB Resident at Synergy Behavior Solutions

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The fourth of July can be a time of celebration for many people, but it can also be a time of great fear for our pets. Here are some tips to make this Fourth as stress-free as possible for your pets.

Tip #1: Know what your pet's fear looks like.  Fear of fireworks doesn't have to look dramatic. Many very fearful pets will quietly hide or shiver. Others will be more obvious, pacing, panting, vocalizing, or even becoming destructive or pottying in the house. The amount of obvious fear signs don't always correlate with actual fear. A hiding dog may be just as afraid as a panting and pacing dog. They just express that fear differently.

Tip #2: Create a Safe Space. Create a safe area for your pet to be during the fireworks. This can be wherever your pet is most comfortable. Two chairs with a blanket draped over them, a crate, a closet, the basement, or an interior room like a bathroom are some possibilities. Set up the area before fireworks start and do lots of positive things in the area. Feed your pet there, give interactive toys and just generally make it a nice place to be. Make sure that your pet has access to that safe area when the fireworks start.

Think about ways to decrease the sound level of fireworks within the home. Shutting all of the windows tight and running a white noise machine or loud fan can help muffle noises from outside. Mutt Muffs (www.safeandsoundpets.com) and Happy Hoodies (www.happyhoodie.com)  are some options that can help reduce that sound level that your pet hears.

Tip #3: Practice Proactive Safety. In the days leading up to July 4th people are often shooting off fireworks. To keep your pets safe, don't allow your dog off-leash, and make sure that their collar or harness is snug so that they can't slip out of it. Potty your dog on leash before it gets dark on these nights, and again if needed after the fireworks are over. Dogs have even escaped fenced yards in their fear. Don't take your dog out during the fireworks themselves. Keep your cat indoors as well. . In fact, the 5th of July is often one of the busiest days for animal shelters as so many dogs become scared and run away from home during the fireworks.

Consider alternate ways to enrich your pet's environment since they may not be spending as much time outdoors. Some options include food puzzle toys, reward-based trick training or dog daycare if your dog is suitable. Keep in mind that there will probably be occasional fireworks after July 4th, so be prepared for that as well.

Tip #4: Avoiding is OK! Many pet owners leave Portland altogether and spend the July 4th weekend in more remote locations around the state. Other tips that clients have shared with us include: staying at a well sound-insulated hotel (such as near the airport) spending the evening in an underground parking garage, or taking a drive to and from Eugene with their pet to avoid the sounds of the fireworks. Our Fourth of July Hideaway is an option as well!

Tip #5: Medications can bring relief. If your pet is very scared during fireworks, speak to your veterinarian (or for Dr. Valli's clients, speak to her!) now about whether situational anti-anxiety medications are an option to help ease this time for your pet.


Fourth of July Hideway
Are you and your dog staying in town for the July 4th holiday? If your dog does not like fireworks, consider Synergy Behavior Solutions' Fourth of July Hideaway. Bring your dog and hang out for the evening in our quiet space and watch movies to boot!The last two years were a great time and they look forward to it again.

 

Wanderlust

Get ready for summer’s best NW escapades

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This is the time of year when clear skies and warmer temperatures invite us to explore. But after months of slower, cooler days, we and our dogs need to pace ourselves.

Age and Ability

Consider the fitness level of both you and your best friend. Those who are active, healthy and relatively young will enjoy long hikes and big treks. For others, easier, shorter excursions are just as fun and beneficial (physically and mentally).

Location

Consider terrain, plants, wildlife, and insects. Keep dogs on leash or voice control to avoid confrontations or injuries to themselves or wildlife. Especially keep small dogs close and be watchful of possible predators. It's also important to watch for poison oak or treacherous foxtails. The latter can cause severe ear problems in dogs, and if you venture into a tick zone, treat your pet in advance and do a thorough post-activity check — of both pooch and human.

Temperature

Be prepped and equipped for the conditions. Depending on age, breed, color, and coat, the same trek might warrant a coat for one pup and sunscreen for another. If your activity buddy is a Pug, Boxer, or other short-nosed (brachycephalic) breed, watch for signs of labored breathing with exertion. Remember, too: walking on hot surfaces is dangerous for dogs as their pads can easily burn. 

Gear

Most parks and recreation spots require you to have your dog on leash, so a sturdy, comfortable lead is a must. Harnesses can be nice on hikes where enthusiasm might make your dog want to pull ahead.

If you’re really venturing out, pack some essentials for the unexpected. Nobody plans on getting lost or having an injured hiking partner, but it’s wise to prepare. Before you go, consider these items for your backpack:

•    Basic first-aid kit (most vets keep a handy content checklist)

•    Water and bowl (pet supplies and outdoor retailers stock handy pack-and-carry types)

•    Snacks for you and your dog

•    Emergency phone numbers (vet, emergency contacts)

•    Waste disposal bags

•    A bed sheet or blanket (if needed to carry an injured pet)

•    Rain poncho/parka (for canines and humans)

•    Emergency blanket

•    Backpack (medium and large dogs can often carry some gear themselves and share the burden, but be careful to not overload!)

•    GPS unit

•    Dog booties (available in styles for every activity)

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If your pup will be swimming, even strong swimmers benefit from a good flotation vest. For hot-weather adventures, consider a cool coat to shield the dog from the harsh rays of the sun. . Wetting the cool coat also provides effective cooling.

One more possible backpack item is a dog-specific sports drink. Water enhancers like Go Dog and Active are meant to encourage dogs to drink while replenishing electrolytes and helping with stamina and muscle recovery.

Now that you’ve got your checklist and gear ready and checked twice for summer fun, get out there and enjoy! Share your photos with us at SpotMagazineNW on Facebook. 

Resources

K9 Power Go Dog * k9power.com/go-dog-hydration-electrolytes-active-dog-nutritional-supplement

WaterDog *  https://www.waterdogsupplements.com/product-page/waterdog-active

Ruffwear *  ruffwear.com


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A Portland native, Kennedy Morgan has been around dogs her entire life – from the multitude of strays near the country home of her youth to the crew she calls her own now. Vegas, her retired agility superstar (Great Dane!) has been her primary inspiration for all things dog in the last decade, including her passion for writing.

Fear & Loathing on the 4th

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4th of July fireworks can sound like the end of the world to pets. Managing a fraidy-cat or jittery dog can mean a long and trying holiday for you, too. Every year, countless panicked pets get hurt or lost trying to flee the terrifying sights and sounds, but these coping strategies will keep you and yours happy and safe until the skies clear.

Give dogs a good walk or playtime early in the day so they’re happily tired before nightfall.

Keep pets at home and indoors. You might need to do this for several nights, depending on how many days of revelry your neighbors observe.

Close the drapes and turn on soothing music to drown out the scary stuff.

Consider a fun distracting game. Coax a mildly nervous cat into a stress-relieving game with a laser or toy. Or fire up the hot-air popcorn popper for an entertaining, chase-worthy dog snack that also makes a distracting white noise.

If you know your kiddos get seriously worked up, your vet may prescribe anti-anxiety meds.

Talk to a good pet supply store: many can recommend over-the-counter treatments.

If — Dog forbid — a pet escapes and goes missing, get in touch with nearby shelters ASAP. Shelter staff work hard before, on, and after the holiday reuniting panicked pets with their worried people.

Hot New Lifesaving Law

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Oregon’s “Good Samaritan Law” — which allows bystanders to free children or pets from overheated parked cars — is one year old. It’s always advisable to call authorities and wait for help, but the law now protects you if you break a window or pry open a door because it’s too dangerous to wait, and:

You have a reasonable belief that a pet or child is in immediate danger

You call police before or immediately after entering the car

You use minimum force needed to get into the car

You stay with the child or pet until police or rescue crews arrive

Even on a mild 75-degree day, the inside of a parked car can reach a miserable 104 degrees in 20 minutes, and a deadly 118 degrees in an hour. 

Sink or Swim! Water Safety for Your Dog

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If you have a water-loving dog, you know there are few things more inviting than cool water on a warm day. There are risks such as overexertion and toxic algae, so it’s important to take precautions to help keep things fun and safe.

Don’t push a scared or reluctant swimmer — not all dogs are natural swimmers.

Take along: Ear cleaning/drying solution if your pup’s floppy ears are vulnerable to infection, a dog flotation vest, and knowledge of pet first aid.

Water-crazy dogs don’t automatically rest when they’re cold or tired. Watch for signs of fatigue, and get your dog on dry land for regular rest breaks.

Safe fencing to prevent unsupervised swims by pets or kids in pools and ponds.

Watch the waves. They can be deadly to tired or distracted swimmers.

Heed all warnings and advisories about toxic algae. Get help right away if you see signs of illness (lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea) as toxic algae poisoning can be fatal in under 24 hours. Check for affected areas at by searching "Algae Bloom Advisories" at oregon.gov.

That rule about swimming right after eating applies to dogs, too. Avoid any heavy physical activity for several hours after a meal. 

Bone Up on winter pet safety

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While it’s been a mild winter in the Northwest this year, some chilly days and weeks still lie ahead.

Despite their fur coats, pets feel the cold just as humans do. The follow safety tips are offered by the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute

  • Know your pet.  Pets’ tolerance for cold varies. When out for walks, provide a jacket for short-haired, elderly or frail dogs.
  • Forgo haircuts.  Save shearing for warmer months.
  • Check ears, paws and tails regularly.  Check for signs of frostbite, raw spots or debris.
  • Wipe your pet’s belly, legs and paws. Have a clean towel ready for when your dog comes inside to remove ice-melting chemicals, which can irritate and cause serious illness if licked or swallowed.
  • Clean antifreeze spills. Attracted to the sweet smell and taste, pets will lick or drink antifreeze, which is toxic to cats and dogs. Clean spills and consider using a brand made from propylene glycol, which is less toxic.
  • Keep water flowing. Dry winter weather can be dehydrating. Keep fresh water free of ice inside and out.
  • Provide a warm bed. Give your pet a warm, cozy bed and plenty of elevated places inside to warm up.
  • Leave Fido at home. You know the dangers of leaving a pet in a hot car, but did you know the practice can be just as hazardous in winter? When running errands, it’s always best to leave dogs at home.

Fido-Friendly Summer Travel

For Dr. Jason Nicholas and his family, a short jaunt out of Portland usually means a stay at the Oregon coast or hiking and snowshoeing in the Columbia River Gorge. For a shorter day trip, the family of four might spend an afternoon on the Sandy River Delta. Whatever the destination, Wendy, the family’s 11-year-old Spaniel/Border Collie mix, is almost always along for the ride.

Traveling with our pets is good for us and for them. We make memories and strengthen our considerable bond. “There are cats that enjoy getting out on a harness and going for hikes, but mostly we’re talking about dogs when we’re traveling with pets,” says Nicholas, adding that, as a hiking or camping partner, a dog offers security as well as companionship. 

But whether canine or feline, furry travel buddies make us better at getting out and exploring, even if only because we stop the car for their bathroom and exercise breaks. Just doing that, we’ll explore things we might have driven past and talk with people we might never have met.

As a family man, Nicholas loves the freedom of loading the kids and the dog in the car and heading out for adventure. But as a veterinarian and chief medical officer of the educational website Preventive Vet, he’s alert to the danger of heading out unprepared. 

Tips for Traveling Well from Dr. Nicholas

1.     Keep current on vaccines and parasite prevention.  Lyme disease is less common in our region than elsewhere in the US, but cases here have steadily risen in recent years and annual cases tend to peak in August. While ticks that might carry Lyme disease are more plentiful in the mountainous and eastern reaches of our region, “we’ve even had some Lyme disease over here in the western side of the state,” Nicholas says, “And fleas are a concern 365 days a year in Oregon; we don’t have a flea-free season here.” 

Talk to your vet about your dog’s lifestyle and travel schedule. Regular flea and tick prevention might be enough, but for intrepid wilderness explorers, a Lyme vaccine might be in order. 

2.     Buckle up!  An excited, wiggly dog is a hazard in a moving car and a projectile during even a low-speed crash. The results can be devastating. “Virtually any harness will help prevent an accident,” but not all will stand up to an actual crash. Nicholas prefers padded, crash-tested models like those from Sleepypod, but depending on your pet’s size and travel attitude, she may do better in a carrier that’s carefully secured. In any case, never let a pet ride in your lap. If an air bag deploys, pets on drivers’ or passengers’ laps get crushed in the impact.

3.     Keep ID tags current.  “Ideally, they’ll also have a microchip,” says Nicholas. Also keep a current photo saved on your phone in case your pet gets lost. 

4.     Scope out your surroundings on arrival.  “Say you check into a vacation home in the mountains and there are rodents out there,” says Nicholas. “Do a quick check of your hotel or rental house for possible hazards: rodent poisons, chemicals, balconies, maybe an open gate. And while you’re doing that, find out where the nearest veterinary clinic is in case you have an urgent and unexpected need.”

5.     Remember hot cars are deadly.  “No discussion of pet travel is complete without a warning about the risk of heat stroke,” Nicholas warns. Even on a mild day, the temperature inside your car will quickly climb into the danger zone. And when heat isn’t a concern, unrestrained pets left alone in parked cars can chew or choke on whatever they find in the car. 


Where do you and your furkids like to travel? Here’s how dog parents answered that question in a recent informal Facebook poll.

“Almost anywhere on the Oregon Coast.” We all know there’s something magical about dogs and beaches. Favorite lodgings include Lincoln City’s Looking Glass Inn, “very dog-centric property right on the Siletz Bay.”  —    Michele from Portland

“The Fireside Inn, The Whaler in Newport, Neskowin’s Proposal Rock Inn, and The Surfside at Rockaway Beach.  Very dog friendly and we like that beach a lot.”  —    Julia and her travel-loving St Bernard, Gomer

The Oregon Gardens Resort in Silverton, perched just between Salem and Portland, has dog-friendly rooms and endlessly walkable garden trails.” I took my dogs there last 4th of July — no fireworks!”  —    Jawea from Salem

Also citing The Oregon Garden. . . 

“Visitors can even bring their dogs to fenced exercise areas just up the road for off-leash playtime, in case you still need to tire them out,”  —    Sue from Molalla

For swimming/hiking/camping adventures, Stub Stewart State Park west of Portland boasts trails, cabins, and an off-leash romping spot. Many Oregon State Parks have dog-friendly yurts, as do some Washington State Parks such as Cape Disappointment. Other favorites include Sauvie Island, the Washougal River (SW WA), Cooper Creek Reservoir (Southern Oregon), and the popular hiking area known as Peavy Arboretum (Corvallis).  


Resources 

Dog Friendly Oregon Coast * idyllicbeachhouse.com * visittheoregoncoast.com

Dog Friendly State Parks * oregonstateparks.org

 Safety * preventivevet.com

 Silverton * OregonGarden.org

 Sunriver * BenningtonProperties.com


Michelle Blake is a Salem, OR-based massage therapist and freelance writer whose work has appeared in national publications. Her husband wants you to know that she's a REALLY crazy dog lady too.

Fear and loathing of the 4th of July

4th of July fireworks can sound like the end of the world to non-humans. If you have a fraidy-cat or jittery dog, it can be a long and trying holiday for you, too.

It’s predictably busy at animal shelters. In fact, Bonnie Hays Animal Shelter in Hillsboro, OR, stays open July 4th to reunite terrified animals with their people. Animal Services Manager Deborah Wood says the hordes of jittery pets “don’t know if it’s Baghdad or Beaverton.” Busy and scary as it is, she says it’s also an “instant-gratification” kind of day, seeing animals safely tucked in a protective shelter environment until they’re happily reunited with their relieved family.

While panicked pets will get expert care at area shelters, of course they’re much happier and safer at home. When the skies light up and the windows start to rattle, they’ll do best if they can stay with you, “preferably NOT at the fireworks display, or at crazy Uncle Albert’s who has the biggest display west of the Mississippi,” adds Wood.

If you know you have a severely phobic dog or cat, talk to your veterinarian well ahead of time. Sometimes an anti-anxiety medication is your best option. There are excellent and affordable helpers you can try at home, too.

  • Julliard-trained pianist Lisa Spector’s iCalm music recordings take a scientific approach to soothing dogs and cats. You can also try a quiet classical music CD in your home stereo.
  • Pet supply stores have remedies that Wood says “might help/can’t hurt.” These range from herbal and homeopathic medicines to Thunder Shirts — stretchy, form-hugging garments designed to calm. Results can range from Godsend to nil, though, so if you’re trying one for the first time on the 4th, have a backup plan.

In my household, where my rescue Pit Bull Roxy would charge her muscled, bow-legged mass into doors or windows at the sound or fireworks, we’ve found three fixes that keep all of us safe and sane:

  • The Homedics sound machine fills our house with cricket chirps or a babbling brook. See my girls quietly playing while an excavator digs up our backyard in the video here.
  • Thanks to a tip from our trainer Lola, we use the hot-air popcorn popper for white noise and treats in one. I turn this into a game, tossing popcorn around the house to keep them busy.
  • “Cookie game” works for dogs or cats. Toss little treats for them to “fetch” inside the house, or hide treats around the room and turn them loose to search.

Whatever your coping strategy, if the worst happens and you’re missing a dog or cat, visit your nearest shelter right away. Also, if you see stray dogs or cats around the holiday, Wood cautions against assuming they’ve been dumped. They’re most likely to find their way home if you take them to the nearest shelter.


Michelle Blake is a Salem, OR-based massage therapist and freelance writer whose work has appeared in national publications. Her husband wants you to know that she's a REALLY crazy dog lady too.

Even in mild temps, cars can become ovens

Here in the Northwest, when nature finally turns off the downspout and shows us some clear blue, it goes to our heads. Shorts, sandals and sunglasses on, we grab the keys and head out with our best buddies. But if your buddies are dogs, and they wait in the car while you dash into the store for “just a minute,” the wait can be deadly.

On a 75-degree day, the temperature inside your car will rise 29 degrees in 20 minutes. That’s 104 degrees, even with the windows cracked for air.

Stop to chat with a friend or get stuck in a slow checkout line, and the car is 109 degrees in 30 minutes. More time equals more heat, and in an hour the inside of the car is 118 degrees.

These statistics from the American Veterinary Medical Association are part of a longstanding effort to prevent the hundreds of pet deaths that happen every year in hot cars. More recently, advocacy groups have worked to change laws in eight states so citizens can legally break a car window to save an animal or child. So far that doesn’t include any Northwest states. In Oregon and Washington, only law enforcement or humane officers have legal authority to break into a hot car, but nearly identical bills pending in both states could change that. If passed, the bills would protect citizens from civil or criminal penalties if they call 911, break a window, and stay with the child or animal until help arrives.

Until then, your legal option is to call 911 if you see animals in dangerously-heated cars. And, of course, you can help spread the word, with friendly reminders or printable flyers like this one from the AVMA. https://www.avma.org/public/PetCare/Documents/petincar_heat_poster_high.pdf.


Michelle Blake is a Salem, OR-based massage therapist and freelance writer whose work has appeared in national publications. Her husband wants you to know that she's a REALLY crazy dog lady too.