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Sensitivity for sensitive ears

Article and photo by Kathy Fallert
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Photo of dog chewing on another dog's ear

Otis will stop in mid-chomp grooming Tebow’s ears when a thunderstorm is approaching.

It starts with Otis sounding the alarm, “Rooo! Rooo! Roooooooo!” The rumble of thunder is faint, but it’s enough to get his attention. So much so that he interrupts his relentless chomping and grooming of Tebow’s ears. Otis looks at me. He looks at my husband. He looks at Tebow. Then looks at me again as if to say, “Did you guys hear something?” “Who me?” says Tebow’s quizzical look. “You mean like food pouring or a ball being thrown? Nope, not a thing,” Tebow sighs and puts his head back down on the couch.

Conspicuously missing is Sadie, our third fur baby. Otis begins to crazily run around in a mad hunt, “What about Sadie. Where’s Sadie?” After all, Otis is super fierce, and that noise could be an intruder. Moments later, Otis’ mad hunt is over; Sadie is discovered hiding under the desk.

And so it goes in the Fallert household, as thunderstorms approach. The dogs know it’s coming way before we do. A dog’s ears are far more sensitive than a human’s. Dogs of all personalities have very different reactions to loud noise. Sadie is absolutely terrified of thunder. Otis hears it and wants an explanation. Tebow couldn’t care less. The same is true when the Fourth of July rolls around.

Cats’ ears tend to be less sensitive than dogs’. If the noise of booming fireworks does bother a cat, the cat will typically hide. According to the website for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, turning on soft music and moving your fright-prone dog or cat to an interior room with no windows may be helpful on Independence Day.

In addition, there is an anxiety vest for dogs that you can try if your dog is extremely fearful. A snug fitting T-shirt can also be substituted for the vest. Another option is to have your veterinarian prescribe an anti-anxiety medication for the big day. Be sure to try a practice dose beforehand to make sure your pet does okay with the medication. Don’t share the medication with other pets, and be sure to not exceed the recommended dosage – the veterinary emergency room is not where you want to spend your holiday.

In years when fire restrictions are not in place and you choose to shoot off your own fireworks, be mindful of pets who may attempt to ingest the new, strange smelling and unusual items that just showed up in your house. The Animal Poison Control Center sees an increase in calls regarding this issue around the beginning of July every year. While most cats are savvier than to ever consider eating fireworks, some dogs will eat anything, my three included, regardless of how bad it tastes. My dogs eat pine cones. Enough said. Fireworks contain chemicals and heavy metals. If you do set off fireworks, be sure to clean up the area before allowing any canine access.

If you’re going to watch a fireworks show, remember to keep your skittish pet at home and in a secure area. The excessive noise can cause them to be afraid as well as disoriented. Some pets will try to make a run for it and escape their yard.

Break out the lawn chairs, fire up the barbecue and enjoy the celebration. Just remember to consider your furry friends if they are easily stressed by noise.



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