Don’t let your dog’s fear of fireworks ruin his day

dog's fear of fireworks
dog's fear of fireworks, dog afraid of fireworks

Dogs HATE fireworks!

Your dog’s fear of fireworks and other loud noises is real! Their ears are so much more sensitive than ours, so the loud noises bother them more. Plus, dogs just don’t understand our need to have fireworks at all. It’s a scary time for them. Just because the fourth of July has passed doesn’t mean the noise and chaos are gone.

You don’t have to be the one shooting off the fireworks, either. Chances are you have a neighbor who shoots them off without any consideration for your dog’s fear. Even if we don’t shoot off any fireworks ourselves, most dogs are going to have to tolerate it one way or another.

dog's fear of fireworks

How we react to our dog’s fear of fireworks has changed

When I was growing up, we had a rescued lab mix who was scared to death of fireworks. Every year, she would go hide in the closet, dig frantically, and be a drooly mess. We sort of thought it was weird, maybe laughed a little, but didn’t do anything about it. We didn’t know any better.

Now, looking back, I feel so sad for that girl. I wish we could have tried to help her feel better. We did the best we could at the time.

We’ve learned better ways

Fast forward to today. In those years, I’ve learned a few things. Now I watch how my dogs are doing and notice any changes in behavior.

We have a 10 year old Australian Shepherd named Sera, who hates loud noises. Ever since we got her as a 3 month old pup, she has been scared senseless of thunderstorms and fireworks.

This normally calm, friendly girl, will go hide under the bed or in the basement as soon as she hears anything scary. We can’t force her out without risking getting bit. It’s THAT bad. We’ve tried distracting music, thundershirts, essential oils, CBD oil, you name it. None of it has done much good.

We have to accept that Sera is afraid and can’t help herself. So we do what we can to help her. We try to anticipate when a situation is going to come up and comfort her as best we can. We haven’t found the magic trick yet, but we keep trying. At least we’re lucky enough to live in the country. That distance helps mute the fireworks a bit.

What can you do to help your with your dog’s fear of fireworks?

Scared dogs do things that they wouldn’t usually do, like bite, pace, run around nervously, hide, and just plain run away, possibly out of the yard and far from you. Their fear makes them forget. The panic makes them do things to get lost or hurt. Not because they are doing it intentionally, but because of the fear.

They say that around the Fourth, the animal shelters are the busiest at this time of year. Lots of dogs run away and end up at the shelter instead of home. Or maybe just lost for good. You don’t want this to be your dog.

dog's fear of fireworks

Here are some ideas that might help.

  • Know your dog’s fear behaviors so you can anticipate a situation before it goes bad.
  • Keep your dog’s identifiers on them (tags, etc.) so you can be contacted if they do become lost.
  • Try what you can to calm them down (drugs, oils, devices, behavior management, distraction) to minimize fear.
  • Keep them securely. At home in a safe place is the best. Hopefully with the other tactics as well.

This time will end eventually. At least until next year. And since you can’t make it stop, you’ll need to learn how to help your dog so they can make it through safely and securely.

For more about helping an anxious dog, read my post How to help your anxious dog or this article from Dogs Naturally magazine.

Have you found some tips and tricks to help your dog with the fear of fireworks? Tell me about it in the comments below.

How to help your anxious dog

anxious dog, how to help an anxious dog
nervous dog
how to help your nervous dog
anxious dog
how to help your anxious dog
What can you do to help your anxious dog?

An anxious dog is not a happy dog. Do you know how to recognize that your dog is scared, nervous, or anxious? Maybe you know how to recognize it, but what do you do to help your pup?

Do you have an anxious dog?

Usually, he or she is happy go lucky, relaxed and ready to have fun. But then something happens that transforms them into a dog that you might not recognize. Is your usually relaxed dog

  • pacing
  • drooling excessively
  • wide eyed
  • trying to hide
  • tucking the tail
  • trembling

If you see these or other uncharacteristic behaviors, your dog might be anxious or afraid. It’s a good thing to be aware of. Knowing is the first step in helping them feel better.

Why is my dog acting this way?

Sometimes events happen that turn your loveable mutt into an anxious dog. Have you ever noticed that when a thunderstorm hits, your dog runs for the basement? My dog, Sera, does that. She can hear it long before I’m aware of it. Possibly, you see these behaviors when you go to the vet’s office? That’s definitely a place that most dogs are less than fond of. Then there are the fireworks that so often show up this time of year. All those loud noises hurt the ears and provoke anxiety too.

These situations and many more can cause your dog some discomfort. You might not be able to prevent the situations, but you can learn when to anticipate that your dog will have a problem and help prepare them to deal with it.

How can you help your dog to tolerate these anxiety-producing events?

There are several steps you can take in order to be prepared. You may not be able to get rid of the fear completely, but anything you can do to minimize the anxiety will help.

  • The first step is to KNOW your dog. Seems simple, right? But how well do you really know them? Do you know the top few situations that make them nervous? How do they react and how severely do they react?
  • Once you know these things about your dog, you can anticipate when the problems will come up and put together a plan to help them through it. For example, if thunderstorms are a problem, knowing they are in the weather report and roughly when they’re predicted can allow you to keep your dog inside, use medicines, music, etc., to keep them calm, etc.
  • Learn about several methods of reducing anxiety. Items like thundershirts, CBD oil, meds from the vet, calming music, exercising to wear off anxious energy, etc., can all be helpful. But they may not work on your dog for the particular situation. Having several approaches means a greater chance of success.
  • If you can, be there for your dog. You provide a whole lot of security to them. If you can’t be there, try to have a safe place like a kennel, a comfy bed or a favorite toy.
  • After the situation, evaluate what worked and what didn’t. You now have a chance to refine your approach so next time, things can be even better for your dog.

Your dog can be less anxious

Knowing that something is likely to cause anxiety and getting ahead of the situation allows you to be proactive before your dog reaches that “about to jump out of their skin” state. Once the anxiety reaches that level, it’s really hard to diffuse. Catching it early gives you a better chance of helping your dog have minimal reactions or maybe even none at all.

Figure out what turns your sweet pup into an anxious dog. They don’t do it to be naughty. You can help them to handle situations better by applying a few tips and tricks. You’ll both feel better if you do.

Do you have some techniques you’ve used that help your dog feel less anxious? Tell me about them in the comments below.

For more about helping your dog with anxiety, read my post Essential Oils for dogs on this blog or What is CBD oil? on Your Pet; Mind and Body. Fireworks and the Fourth of July are especially hard on dogs. Read my post Don’t let your dog’s fear of fireworks ruin his day for some ideas to help your dog.

When it’s time to say goodbye to your dog

when it's time to say goodbye to your dog
when it's time to say goodbye to your dog

It’s a part of life.

When it’s time to say goodbye to your dog. That is one of the toughest decisions you have to make as a dog parent. It’s a very heavy responsibility of pet parents everywhere.  We want to do it in the best way possible. But as much as we hate it, the hard fact is that most animals don’t live longer than humans.  So if you have dogs in your life, saying goodbye to them is inevitable.

Having dogs in our lives

As a lifelong dog lover, I’ve had countless dogs.  Sometimes, I didn’t get to choose the end of our time together.  Getting hit by a car or passing in sleep are times we don’t have control . Accidents or natural death take that control out of our hands. 

Other times, even though we don’t want to, we have to decide when enough is enough for our beloved pet. I’ve had to make that difficult decision from time to time.It’s the kindest thing we can do; to bring an end to suffering. But it has been heartbreaking each and every time.

Dying doesn’t mean they’re gone, exactly

It’s true that your dog’s physical body is no longer here, but your dog isn’t really gone.  You will always have the memories of your good times together. Remember how they loved that one toy or playing catch? If you try really hard, you can still feel the softness of their coat. And hopefully, you have lots of photos to remind you of happy times together. Those are yours to keep. When you’re missing your old friend, you can pull up those memories and relive some of the good times from the past.

Something else you have even after your dog is gone; the lessons they teach you. Dogs are such special beings. So loving and loyal. Each one of my pets has taught me something. Tasha, our rescue boxer, taught me that you’re never too old to have fun. Rocket, my red aussie, taught me to always watch out for each other. Gabbie, my black mini aussie, taught me that having a physical handicap doesn’t have to stop you.

Whether it was teaching me a deeper understanding of the human/animal bond or teaching me something about myself, they always taught me something. Sometimes those lessons weren’t so fun to learn, but they were helpful all the same.

Still here in spirit

I also choose to believe that the spirits of the animals that have been in my life come to visit from time to time.  Have you ever felt a sudden warmth at your side where your old friend would hang out?  My old girl, Rocket, likes to visit from time to time.  I’ll feel her at my heel sometimes, especially if I’ve been thinking about her or I need a little encouragement. She’s still watching out for me, I think. Or maybe you feel a presence, like somebody just went around the corner.  It’s comforting to believe that those are times your pet is checking in on you, telling you it’s ok.

When it’s time to say goodbye to your dog

First, when you have to decide, it’s just plain hard.  You love them so much! It’s never a good time to let them go.  But if you think about your pet and what’s best for them, it can be the best time available. To end the suffering of another can be a noble thing.

There is usually not one time that it has to happen.  With the advances in veterinary medicine, dogs can live for quite a while. But being alive and living are not the same thing.  Living means that there is quality of life.  If your dog has a lot of pain, difficulty breathing, difficulty eating, etc., they may have crossed over to the “being alive” end of the spectrum.

You, as the dog parent, have to decide when “living” becomes simply “being alive”  Is your dog having more good days than bad?  Are they still participating in life enough to enjoy it? Are the symptoms of their prognosis, whatever it is, bearable?

As difficult as it can be to take our hopes and wishes out of the decision, these are the kinds of things that we need to consider. The number one goal is to give your pet the best ending possible; one with the least amount of pain and suffering and the most love. Trust that you’ll know when it’s time to say goodbye to your dog.

Read my post Aging dogs are a part of life for helping with quality of life before it’s time.

The best time to say goodbye

There is rarely a perfect answer.  You can only do your best to decide when. Although it hurts every single time, my words of encouragement to myself are this “this is the kindest thing I can do for my friend”.

Bottom line, the decision is terribly, completely personal.  I think, if you’re making the choice out of love and concern for your pet’s best interest, the time you choose is the most perfect time possible. Second guessing doesn’t help.  It only makes you more miserable. Knowing your intentions are the best; that’s what helps ease the pain of making the decision. Just believe that you’re making the right decision because you love your pet.

There are tons of articles and posts out there about saying goodbye to our pets.  This one from Dogsbestlife.com was a good one, but you can find more by doing a search. Some of the things you can do to help they cross over peacefuly when it’s time to say goodbye to your dog are reiki or using essential oils.

If you have a pet, you love them and never want to have to make a decision that means goodbye.  But if you love them, it’s part of the promise you make to take care of them. They will still be in your heart, mind and soul, even when their bodies are gone.

Have you said goodbye to a special pet? First, I’m sorry for the pain that came with it.  Second, I would value hearing about your experiences.  Please tell me in the comment below.

What do you do if your dog has a tick?

dog has a tick
dog has a tick

What is that on your dog?

Oh no! Your dog has a tick! It’s every dog parent’s nightmare to find one of these yucky pests on their dog. And with the warmer weather, the chance of finding a tick is highly likely. Now what do you do?

First thing you want to do is get that thing off your dog. They can carry all kinds of diseases, like Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, or a whole slew of others. You don’t want your dog to get any of these, so the best thing to do is to get that tick off quickly. They say within 24-36 hours is best, but whenever you find it, get rid of it!

You want it gone, but it’s important to remove that tick the right way. If you don’t, you might not get the whole thing, or any diseases it’s carrying might be passed to your dog. Infection can also be a problem since the remaining part of the tick is recognized by the body as a foreign object.

Ways to remove a tick from your dog

There are lots of different approaches to removing one of these things from your dog.

  • There’s the mechanical approach; using tweezers and pulling slowly and carefully so you get the tick out with the mouth parts. They also have devices, tick keys for example, that slide over the tick and help you pull it out intact. If you use this method, you should wear gloves so you don’t get any diseases and you should flush the tick down the toilet or kill it. You do NOT want it to come back.
  • Smothering it with baby oil, vaseline or some other substance can get rid of the tick. Some of these work better than others, depending on things like the thickness of the product. The downside is that it might pass disease to your dog as it’s dying.
  • You can use various products to repel the tick and make it pull it’s mouth out on its own. If you have apple cider vinegar, citrus fruits or eucalyptus oil, you can use these. Home remedies like these can help, but might take a bit of patience before they work.

One thing you don’t want to do is squeeze the tick with your fingers since that can cause it to spread disease into your dog. Plus, you could get any diseases it has if you’re not wearing gloves.

After the tick is out, then what?

The risk of infection is real, so clean the area with soap and water or another antiseptic. Also apply an antibiotic ointment if you can. And wash your hands so you don’t catch anything. Finally, kill the tick so it doesn’t show up again.

To be safe, you should check your dog for any other ticks. If they have one, they could certainly have another or even several. Check places like ears, between toes, the groin, under the tail………as much surface area as possible.

Just in case, watch your dog for signs of infection at the site or development of disease. Take your dog to the vet if anything looks off.

No one wants to find that their dog has a tick

Our dogs spend a lot of time outside playing in the grass and fields, so we find ticks from time to time. This year has been worse than usual. The simple mechanical approach has worked well for us. You can check sites like the AKC site or Dogsnaturally magazine for more ideas on removing these parasites. Whatever method you use, just be diligent about checking so your dog doesn’t end up with an illness that could possibly have been prevented.

For more about essential oils and dogs, read my post Essential oils; do they really work?

Have you had to deal with ticks on your dog? What methods have you used? Tell me about it in the comments below.

Essential oils for dogs. Do they really work?

essential oils for dogs

essential oils for dogs

Essential oils. What are they?

Essential oils for dogs use  compounds that come from parts of various plants. The plants are distilled or otherwise broken down to the oils that are considered essential oils.

Each plant has unique properties that may have therapeutic effects on the individual using them. They can be used aromatically (inhaled), topically (on the skin) or internally depending on the oil and the purpose it’s being used. They’re usually combined with a carrier oil like olive oil or vegetable oil for dilution and ease of use.

Humans have been using them more or less forever; before recognized medicine as we know it now. But recently, they’ve grown in popularity. People have been finding more and more ways to benefit from them and have started trying them on their pets.

How can you use essential oils for dogs?

In general, the same ways as humans. But the body of each species uses them a bit differently. Dogs might be more or less sensitive to a certain oil. Or, more importantly, they might have negative reactions or suffer problems from some oils.

Essential oils can help dogs with anxiety.  Read my post, How to help your anxious dog for more.

As with most holistic approaches, you’ll want to check with your vet to be sure there aren’t any possible negative effects with using these oils. If you decide to use them, you should always allow an animal to refuse. Let them sniff or otherwise investigate and don’t force anything they aren’t wanting. They’ll know if the particular oil you are considering feels right to them.

Dogs

These are some good ones to have on hand for your dog. This list is far from complete, but these are some of the most popular oils people like to use. We like lavender, frankincense and spearmint for ours.

Lavender – calming and relaxation

Helichrysum – antiseptic, anxiety reduction

Cedarwood – repelling insects and cleaning wounds

Lemon – anti-arthritic, anti-fungal

Frankincense – immune system strengthening, possible cancer treatment

Spearmint – digestive issues

Lemongrass – insect repellent

Citronella – insect repellent

Are essential oils worth it?

Having used them for ten years or so, I think they are. You definitely have to use caution and get educated about each species and the oils you’re considering. There ARE some negative effects if you don’t make sure you are using a safe option in the best way. As I said before, you should talk to your vet to be sure.

Therapeutic grade essential oils have the best value. They might be a bit more expensive, but the quality and effectiveness outweighs the small savings you might find.

That being said, we’ve used many of these on our animals. Since we’ve seen some great benefits for our dogs and horses, we have been learning more and more.

Read some of my other posts about alternative health Pet healthcare; traditional or alternative or A dog chiropractor can help your dog. Here’s how. Read What to do if your dog has a tick for another great use for essential oils. There are also many great articles online. Young Living has been a great source of quality essentials for us.

I’d love to hear about your experiences or your questions regarding essential oils and your pets. Comment below!

A dog chiropractor can help your dog.

dog chiropractor

What is a dog chiropractor?

A dog chiropractor specializes in dogs and other pets, manipulating misaligned joints to bring them back to a healthy state. 

In the U.S., a dog chiropractor has to earn an undergraduate degree, then either a degree as a human chiropractor or in veterinary medicine. After that, they have to get further educated and licensed as an animal chiropractor in their state. So, to say that they have a lot of knowledge is an understatement!

Why would you take your dog to a chiropractor?

Have you ever been to a chiropractor for yourself?  If you have, you know that they work on your back and joints to help you feel less pain and move better.  Their job is to align the skeletal system to decrease problems and increase health of bones, joints, nerves, muscles and other issues. After a session, hopefully you have less pain and can move more easily. I know I surely feel more energetic!

Although they can’t tell us what’s wrong, your dog feels pretty much the same aches and pains we do, If you watch them move and pay attention to their behaviors, you might even notice something off.

What kinds of issues can a dog chiropractor help with?

The list is actually pretty long; some issues you might guess, while others are surprising. A partial list includes

– Relieving pain, especially along the spine or in extremities

– Correcting movement changes or lameness

– Realigning musculoskeletal issues 

– Resolving neurologic conditions like numbness or weakness

– Assisting in recovery after an injury, accident or surgery

– Addressing behavior issues like loss of interest in playing, avoidance of petting or contact or constant licking

– Reducing the effects of allergies, digestive problems and stress

Hard to believe that so much is connected to just having your back cracked (my old belief about chiropractors).  

I take my dogs to a chiropractor

I never used to, but now I take my dogs to a chiropractor on at least a semi-regular basis.  Being at least 50 miles from a pet chiropractor makes it difficult to get there as regularly as I’d like, but each session helps.  

As each dog gets treated, I’ve observed improvements in their health and mood. I’ve had elderly, rescue dogs with severe back problems start acting like they have life in them again.  And my dogs with hip dysplasia are having much less pain. They often need less pain medicine after an adjustment.

It isn’t terribly expensive; in our area of the country, a treatment could be around $40.  I would recommend it for any of your pets that might have pain or other issues. They’ll thank you for it! And you’ll feel better knowing they feel better.

For more about pet chiropractors, visit the AVCA website. Read more posts about alternative health options for your dog here;

Heat stroke! How can you prevent it?

Learn how to perform reiki on your dog

Heat stroke! How can you prevent it?

heat stroke in dogs
heat stroke in dogs

It’s heat stroke time.

Heat stroke time is approaching. It’s almost Memorial Day; the unofficial start to summer, with its warmer weather and outdoor activities.  While we humans are having fun, we want to have fun with our dogs too.  But they have some physical differences that are important to pay attention to. Find out how to keep your dog safe from heat stroke so you can both have fun.

Can dogs cool themselves off?

Dogs don’t sweat, except through the pads of their paws. They pant, which helps them cool off with evaporation, but only does so much. They can change or limit behavior to try to cool down, but they run into difficulties.

Dogs at risk:

– Brachycephalic (short nosed) breeds like pugs or french bulldogs
– Darker colored dogs (since black absorbs heat)
– Heavily muscled dogs (since muscle produces extra heat)
– Very young or very old dogs
– Dogs with other pre-existing health issues
– Very high drive dogs that don’t self limit

What is heat stroke?

If you watch the news or are on social media, you’ve most likely heard of heat stroke.  But maybe you don’t know exactly what it is and how to recognize it. Heat stroke, a form of hyperthermia, happens pretty often to dogs since they don’t cool themselves as well as humans do.  A dog’s normal temp is between 101 and 102.5. Heat stroke can lead to temps of 106 or even higher!  Temperatures that high can lead to acute (sudden) renal failure, rapid or irregular heart rates, liver damage and seizures, to name a few issues.  This is an extremely dangerous condition and failure to act can lead to death.

Signs of heatstroke include:

– Panting
– Decreased responsiveness
– Drooling
– Dark red gums
– Confusion and/or anxiety
– Glazed eyes
– Rapid heart rate
– Labored breathing
– Temperature above 103
– Vomiting or diarrhea, possibly with blood in them

If you see these symptoms, you need to try to cool your dog off a.s.a.p.!  What you can do:

– Get them out of the heat
– Let them stand or lay in cool water and bath them in it
– Encourage them drink cool (not ice cold) water

If these steps don’t get your dog to normal quickly, or if you see seizures, vomiting, diarrhea or minimal consciousness, you need the vet’s help as quickly as possible. Organ damage quickly starts in and makes rescue much more difficult.

How do you prevent it?

Heat stroke can be prevented if you are prepared. All dogs have the potential to suffer from heat stroke, so it’s a good idea to be aware of the weather and risk factors.  If your dog is especially prone to overheating, this becomes vital.

To make sure your outing doesn’t turn into a tragedy:

– Plan extreme activity for cooler times of the day
– Offer plenty of water
– Limit activity to shorter periods of time during the hot part of the day
– Provide a kiddie pool or other water for cooling off
– Use cooling mats, cooling coats, etc. to keep body temperature at a healthy level. Read my post How did I get started making cool coats for info about cooling coats or How does a dog cool itself off for more ideas for helping your dog. If you want to buy your dog a cool coat, see Made by De for more.

Summertime is ideal for fun times outside.  With a little planning, it can be great for dog activities too. It pays to be aware. What do you do to help your dog stay cool? Tell me about it in the comments below.

Learn to perform reiki on your dog. It’s easy!

dog reiki

Learn to perform reiki on your dog

Reiki and your dog

Learn to perform reiki on your dog to help them heal, reduce pain, decrease anxiety…..all kinds of things. Reiki is a form of energy healing that anyone can learn to use. You can use this powerful tool to help your pets any time you want to. And it doesn’t take a whole lot of time to get started.

What is reiki?

The definition of reiki is universal energy. The technique is founded on the principle that everything is connected by energy and that energy can be channeled from the source of that energy to wherever it is needed.

Mikao Usui conceived of this version of energy healing practice at the beginning of the 20th century. Universal energy has always been present and has been used for centuries, but Sensei Usui put together the specific set of teachings and principles that make up reiki today.

Reiki has been passed down from teacher to student ever since. Depending on the teacher, the ideas and steps have changed a bit, but it’s all based on the same universal energy that Sensei Usui used more than a century ago.

How reiki helps your dog

Reiki can help relieve pain, encourage relaxation, reduce anxiety and many other conditions. You always want to go to your vet with any concerns first. Then ask your vet if they think there would be any problems. Then you can use reiki to complement the care so your dog gets a more complete healing. But it doesn’t work like you might think.

To understand reiki, you have to open your mind a bit if you aren’t familiar with eastern medicine. Instead of addressing specific problems and fixing them (think broken bone is fixed by a cast), this method addresses overall wellness (example: decreasing stress leads to improved health).

The basic process is this;

  • universal energy is all around us.
  • when you are attuned to reiki, you become a channel for that energy.
  • you purposefully intend a positive outcome of some type for your pet or other person, place, animal or thing.
  • universal energy flows through you to the intended destination and causes a positive effect.

The energy goes where it is needed and if it isn’t needed, it simply doesn’t flow there. Also, you can’t cause harm with reiki; only good or non effect.

How you can learn to perform reiki on your dog

I have had several pets recently that had pain issues. As much as the vet and I tried, we often couldn’t find a way with traditional medicine to make things better. Since I’m always looking for things online, reading books, etc., I heard about reiki.

Although I didn’t really understand it, as I researched, reiki seemed like something that was worth a try. Everything I read said that no harm would be caused; one big benefit. And I found courses that I could take in person or online at anywhere from $20 to $300 or more. Finally, it looked like I could be “up and running” in a few hours to a weekend.

I signed up for an online course at Udemy. Within about four hours, I completed the first of the three levels. I started practicing on my dogs right away. And they seemed to love it! Maybe it was the attention, but I felt the energy passing through and the problems got better.

After the second level and again after the third level, I was atuned. Atunement is a process that involves energy flowing from teacher to student, allowing the student to channel energy more efficiently.

How is it working? You can learn to perform reiki on your dog.

I’ll be the first one to tell you that I have a lot to learn. However, It’s really nice to know that I can practice and not hurt anything. As I practice, I develop more of an understanding of reiki and how it works.

I would encourage anyone that is interested in trying alternative healing methods to learn reiki. Since the energy flows through me, I feel better. It’s pretty simple to learn. My animals all line up for it, so they must like it. And since the issues seem to get better, I feel like I’m doing something to help my pets. For more about reiki, read my post Can reiki help my pet?

Reiki can be really helpful when it’s time to say goodbye to your dog.

Have you heard of reiki or used it on your pets? Tell me about it in the comments, below.