July 4 Dog Safety TipsThe 4th of July can be a stressful time for many of our pets, especially dogs and cats. The anxiety experienced by our beloved canine companions is often easy to see, but sometimes it can be easy to overlook the negative effect all the festivities and noise are having on our cats and more timid dogs.

Many cats and timid dogs will exhibit subtle signs of stress and anxiety, or they will simply head for “places unknown” and hide out until things return to normal when the situation becomes loud and overwhelming for them. This can make it difficult to notice how much anxiety and/or stress your pet is actually experiencing.

Why is it important to be aware of your pet’s anxiety and stress level? Because anxiety and the stress that accompanies it can have a negative effect on your pet’s health. Simply put, stress can make your pet sick. Stressed pets may develop urinary tract issues such as idiopathic cystitis, they may groom themselves excessively causing trauma to their skin and hairballs, they may stop eating and drinking fluids, and/or they may experience other health issues and concerns.

What can you do for your cat to make the holiday festivities less stressful for your pet?

Here are some tips and suggestions:

◦Keep your pet indoors. Doing so will be safer and quieter for your pet and will also allow you to observe your pet for evidence of anxiety, stress and unusual behavior.

◦Be aware of the signs of stress and anxiety. Each pet will react differently, but in general, watch for changes in appetite, excess vocalization, shaking and trembling, hiding, abnormal grooming behavior, irritability, aggressiveness, and restlessness.

◦Make sure your pet has a safe place to retreat and hide. If you are planning on having guests in your home, consider placing your cat in a room away from all the activity. Be sure your pet has food, water, a litter box, and a comfortable and familiar bed or blanket on which to rest. Giving your pet a box or crate in which to seek refuge and hide may be helpful also.

◦Turn the lights out for your dog and/or cat, and close the window shades to hide the outdoor activities as much as possible. Play soothing music in the background for your pet or leave a television playing.

◦Visit with your pet often and comfort them by petting and speaking soothingly. Keep in mind though that a frightened dog or cat may become aggressive and may strike out, even at a trusted human companion.

◦Arrange for someone to stay with your dog or cat during the festivities and events, so they will not be left alone. Local pet sitting services are available in most towns and are available on an hourly or daily basis. A local pet sitter, such as myself, Whisker Sitters in Traverse City, will stay with your pet on an hourly or daily basis and help soothe and calm your pet’s fears and anxieties, so you can enjoy your day and know they are in caring and competent hands of a professional pet sitter.

◦Pressure wrap devices such as the Thundershirt can also help relieve your pet’s anxiety. These devices wrap tightly, but gently, around your pet’s torso to provide relief from anxiety for many dogs and cats. Allow your pet to become familiar with wearing the Thundershirt apparel prior to the holiday.

◦There are also herbal remedies that can be used to help calm your dog or cat. But, ALWAYS consult your veterinarian first before using any medication for your pet. Many remedies that are safe for you or even for your dog may not be safe for your cat.

◦Use essential oils, even those with calming properties, cautiously around your cat. Cats can be quite sensitive to the effects of these oils, and some may even be toxic.

◦For pets with severe anxiety, your veterinarian can prescribe an anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) medication.

Understanding that your dog or cat can suffer from stress and anxiety during all the holiday celebrations, and knowing how to minimize or alleviate that anxiety for your beloved pet, can make the holiday season a much more pleasant experience for both of you. It may also mean the difference between keeping your pet healthy or dealing with a sick cat after all the celebrations have ended.

For additional information about Whisker Sitters … Traverse City Dog Sitting, Cat Sitting Services In Their Own Home Environment, please visit our website at http://WhiskerSittersTC.com

If you have other helpful hints and tips to share, we would love to read your feedback. Please share in the comment area below!!

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