As we get ready to flip the calendar to July, we are entering into the annual Days of Dread for many of our dogs. I’m talking about 4th of July fireworks. Celebrating our nation’s birth by firing incendiary devices is cause for a major freakout for many dogs. Our Tiger definiely falls in the fireworks freakout category.
Larry, one of our previous greyhounds, also hated the 4th of July. We used to give him Xanax to help with his anxiety on that day. It never made him forget about the fireworks, but it mellowed him out to the point where he would at least be able to sleep, after retreating to the bathroom.
Our Portland neighborhood has turned out to be almost as noisy as our old Seattle neighborhood near the Space Needle, much to Tiger’s chagrin. So we thought some anti-anxiety meds might help him get through the upcoming night of ‘bombs bursting in air.’
Our vet told us she prefers Trazodone to Xanax for dogs and filled a prescription for Tiger.
She also recommended we try it out ahead of the 4th. So we did. Yesterday was our trial run. I gave Tiger some Trazodone at 3:00pm. By 5:00pm he was pretty zonked out.
He was able to go for his regular walk at 6:00, but like a typical Portland stoner he slowly ambled down the street with no sense of purpose. He also stared off into space a lot. Oh, and his balance wasn’t the greatest either, so he peed like a girl dog. He remained in this somnambulant state for the rest of the evening.
Next morning he woke me up with a sloppy kiss at the usual time. Tiger is a very reliable fur alarm. He played with his toys and danced around while I put the leashes on him and Truman. I was ready to declare the Trazodone experiment a success, until halfway through our walk Tiger yakked up that yellow bile that dogs do sometimes on an empty stomach, or after eating grass. He clearly was still feeling the effects of his altered state. After breakfast, he fell sound asleep. My poor boy was clearly nursing a hangover.
I called the vet to report all this and find out it was a typical reaction to Trazodone. We will give Tiger a slightly lower dose on the 4th.
I should add that it’s not the official fireworks displays put on by municipalities that are the problem. It is the clueless yahoos who feel compelled to buy and shoot off their own devices, often for days before and after the actual 4th. The sudden, random exlposions at close range in an otherwise quiet neighborhood are off-putting for most people, and are terrifying for many animals.
Some estimates place fear of fireworks at 40 percent of dogs. Talk to any animal shelter and they’ll tell you that July 5 is their busiest day of the year for runaway dogs.
So please leave the fireworks displays to the professionals and spare the rest of us from your annoying pyrotechnics. Visualize waking up on July 5 with all your fingers intact and the neighborhood dogs enjoying a peaceful day at home.