July is normally a dangerous month for dogs. More dogs go missing during July than any other month of the year. While some of this may be a result of people traveling and outdoors more, there is a big surge right around July 4th- coincidentally when we are in the midst of fireworks season. Many dogs are significantly scared of these blasts of sound and run away. This July, we are not only facing the cacophony of sound from the fireworks, but also Syracuse has been once again been ‘blessed’ with the winds from the Canadian wildfires sweeping in smoke taking our air quality into dangerous levels. here are some guidelines for keeping your dog safe.
Preparing for fireworks
Keep an eye on the schedule for fireworks. https://Syracuse.com is generally a great place to find a schedule for fireworks in the area. This does not help with the neighborhood unsanctioned fireworks though. Make sure your dog’s collar ID and microchip registration are up to date.
Create distance or a Quiet Space
Creating a space in your home that is quiet and away from windows and the flashes of light can help keep your dog comfortable. The closet was the ideal space for my sister’s dog. You could find him tucked in the corner with the clothes helping to muffle the noise.
Help them get used to the sounds.
Help your dog by spending time training him to get used to the sound, obtain a recording of fireworks. start at a very low level for short periods of. time. increase the amount of time and multiple times of day as he improves. reward calm behavior with treats.. if he is extremely fearful of noises consult a behavioral dog therapist.
Another option is to try turning on another noise that the dog is used to to drown out the noise of the fireworks. Possibly utilize a fan or the tv.
Go for a long walk well before dark
Exercising your pup with fun play or a long walk can help decrease their anxiety and tire them out so they are ready to nap when night falls. Make sure their collar or harness is slip-proof, because some people celebrate with firecrackers and other noisemakers before darkness falls.
Offer distractions- but don’t fuss.
When the fireworks start, this is a good time to engage with your dog. Don’t fuss over him though saying everything is ok. Instead, engaging in play with a favorite toy can distract him while your calm demeanor will let him know- this is a normal thing.
It’s hard to not get upset when you see your dog is distressed, but if you frantically console them, it may instill in them that something IS wrong. You can certainly sooth your dog, but do so in a calm, reassuring, and positive manner. If your dog has found a safe space however, don’t drag him out of it to play.
Consult a Professional
Dog trainers, dog behaviorists, veterinarians, and veterinary behaviorists can offer a range of options from counter-conditioning to medication. For a behaviorist you may check out https://dacvb.org/ if you feel your dog is panicked enough that he is hurting himself.
Understanding air quality concerns
Wind shifts from the wild fires can lead to poor air quality and we have just experienced a second wave of increased numbers in the AQI ( Air Quality Index). Syracuse is generally blessed to have a low number around 30 for it’s AQI. This is a wonderful number meaning our air quality is generally fair. We recently reach 265 though placing it in the very unhealthy range. Air quality between 51-100 is considered moderate, but acceptable to most people.
Some dogs are more prone to breathing issues than others ( ie boxers, pugs, bull dogs) as they have shorter snouts.
The best thing for your pets during elevated numbers with the AQI would be to stay inside. Find them some interactive toys to play with and keep them engaged.
Keep Windows closed
Lock the doggy door and keep the doors and windows closed to limit smoke from entering the house. Consider using air purifiers to improve the indoor air quality. these measures can help reduce the impact of the pollutants on your dogs (and your own) respiratory health.
Keep walks short
We all know our animals need to go out occasionally to relieve themselves. Keep the time to a minimum and wipe their paws and fur down when they get inside to minimize the pollutants they are bringing into the home or carrying on their bodies. Walking in the early morning or later in the evening when the sun is not high in the sky can be helpful, but pay attention to the index predictions and choose a time that coordinates with the lower AQI numbers.
Fresh water helps keep your lungs and nasal passages moist which allows allows you to breathe better.
The Double threat of Fire Works and Air Quality
While we have this double threat in the area, it is important to combine these strategies above for dual protection. Luckily these easily can be incorporated in conjunction with each other. Limiting your time outdoors will help minimize exposure to poor air qualities as well as limiting risk of a runaway pet.
Do you have any additional tips/tricks that you employ to help keep your dogs safe at this time of year.
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