TAKING ACTION: Veterinarians offer advice to pet owners before the 4th of July

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – While most families are celebrating Independence Day, the festivities are not as fun for most of our beloved pets.

“Keep the dog inside, not outside, bring it inside, put it in a crate, cover the crate with a blanket,” Dr. Karen Sheppard of Huntsville Animal Services said.

Huntsville Animal Services staff said their kennels stay full in the summer months, especially around the 4th of July.  Pets often get scared from fireworks and get loose.

“The business days after the 4th of July, 20 and 30 dogs easily and then just more filter in,” Dr. Sheppard said.

Before sparks fly on the 4th of July, pet owners are encouraged to take one small step that makes a big impact.

“If you own a pet, any day but definitely on July 3rd, buy a personalized ID tag for your dog or cat,” Dr. Sheppard said. “It should have your address and the best phone numbers for people to reach you.”

The shelter’s staff said a chill pill of sorts can help them calm their fears.

“The favorite drug of choice for dogs that have noise phobia is Alprazolam, or we know it as Xanax,” Dr. Sheppard said. “It really addresses the fear in the animal, but they can still move around, and drink and eat.”

Xanax is a controlled substance that requires a prescription, but there are other options.

“Benadryl just tends to make the dog a little sleepy, it doesn’t do anything about the fear,” Dr. Sheppard said. “Acepromazine for thunderstorm phobia and firework anxiety and when you compare Acepromazine to Xanax, there’s no comparison, Xanax is the way to go.”

Dr. Sheppard also encourages pet owners to swaddle their dogs in a “thunder blanket” or t-shirt if they have a mild fear of fireworks.