Fireworks are not for Fido

Summer is here- the thunderstorms and fireflies are back. This is the time of year when we veterinarians start receiving calls asking for tranquilizers for pets afraid of thunder and fireworks. This is a common problem in the dog world, one that seems to increase in intensity as a dog ages.

When I was growing up, I had a dog that was my soul mate- she jumped on the bus and bit the principal on my first day of school because I was crying and she thought he was hurting me. Baby had only one fear in life- thunder. As soon as it started, she would hide. If she were outside, she would run across the street to our neighbors. They would let her in and she would promptly hide under their bed until the storm had passed. The dog I have now simply snores her way through storms; each dog is an individual.

I have seen dogs so afraid of fireworks and thunder that they have gone through a plate-glass window and required sutures. For those poor creatures, not to mention their owners, summer is tough. There are tranquilizers that can be given at the first sign of a storm or fireworks, but these need to be prescribed on an individual basis as there can be severe side effects such as seizures. The time to discuss this with your veterinarian is before they are needed. No emergency clinic will dispense medication without seeing a pet and the flood of calls that occur on these occasions takes away from the life-threatening emergencies, so please plan ahead.

While we are on the subject of fireworks, please leave your pets home the night of fireworks displays. If your pet is already afraid and you put them into a situation that is unfamiliar and frightening, your pet is not only a danger to himself, but also to those surrounding them. Many dog bites occur in situations where a dog feels threatened. So, please enjoy your Fourth of July and summer, but remember to keep yourself and your pet safe.

Editor's note: Dr. McClure is a practicing veterinarian with an office in Orange.