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Cope with fireworks: How to keep your dogs calm on the Fourth of July

Independence Day with dogs can be hectic. Some dogs panic when they hear fireworks and the same goes for thunderstorms. Here are some suggestions to keep your dogs and cats safe.

You can buy a Thundershirt. Thunderworks also has a ThunderLeash, a ThunderShirt for cats, a ThunderSpray and a ThunderSweater.

The basis for a ThunderShirt is pressure points, something like acupressure and animal behavioral studies combined.

The ThunderShirt is actually founded on the same idea of the Anxiety Wrap.Besides being good for thunderstorm fear, they are also good for separation anxiety, constant barking caused by fear, nervousness, destructive chewing, sharp-shy aggressive, leash pulling, fear of other dogs, fear of people, travel anxiety, and hyperactivity.

If you can't find one at your nearest pet store, you can either use an Ace Bandage or an old T-shirt to do pretty much the same.

The wrap is also based on acupressure and used by the T-Touch people.

If you don't want to use an Ace bandage, then you can always try an old T-shirt.

Another technique you can use to calm dogs is an easy T-Touch ear stroke massage. Other good massage techniques include the T-Touch mouth massage, but unless your dog is used having its mouth touch, this might produce more anxiety, making it counterproductive.

Other people try desensitizing their pets to the noise by having their pets listen to thunderstorms. The problem is that a recording can't mimic the smell or the vibrations.

You can also try aromatherapy for dogs. Calming scents include lavender, chamomile, cedarwood, clary sage and sweet orange. Be careful when you use aromatherapy oils . Not all oils are safe to apply directly to your pet, so it is better to use them indirectly. Scent the dog's blanket or their area. Lavender and cedarwood both also deter fleas and mosquitoes (other bug repelling plants include citronella, catnip, marigolds and peppermint).

If you walk them outside try to be sure you have them on-leash. The best is a non-retractable 6-foot leash with a cushioned hand grip. With an adrenaline rush, a frightened dog may be able to go over or under or even through your fence. If you hold your leash properly with the handle in your right palm (and not around your wrist) and and leash in your left hand.

In your house, make sure your dog is comfortable. Before the fireworks begin, exercise your dogs to so they won't have an extra energy when the fireworks begin. Because dogs pant when they are excited, you need to be sure your dog is properly hydrated. Give them plenty of water. Anxious dogs might want to feel the comfort of a cave, so be sure they have a safe place such as a crate.

You yourself must be calm and not get upset if your dog shows signs of anxiety.

Think of Independence Day as an opportunity to get close to your dogs by making it a family event.

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