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4th of July Fireworks Pet Safety

Posted by Jennifer on June 30th, 2011

Surprised Siberian catFireworks are part of many celebrations, and are tons of fun for humans… but not so much for our furry family! July 4th especially can be a day of terror for our dogs and cats. At night the bangs and screeching of fireworks elevate your pets’ fight-or-flight drive. This can cause them to panic, wet the floor, tear up things, try to escape, run, or exhibit other distressed behavior. Be aware! This is the busiest time of year at shelters across the U.S.A. for a reason. Even if your dog or cat has never tried to escape or run, this may be the time. They may seem fine and then suddenly bolt out an open door or gate. Fireworks can start days in advance, so use our tips as soon as needed. There’s lots you can do to help your dogs and cats stay cool and safe this day of independence. Here’s how:

  1. Keep your pets inside during fireworks times. Some neighborhoods this can be every night for a week leading up to the July 4th! Even normally calm pets can be startled enough by fireworks to bolt over or through a fence they previously respected. 
  2. Keep windows AND doors closed & locked. Startled pets have been known to push or jump through screens or even cracked windows. Keep doors to the outside closed during and after when fireworks are going off, to prevent pets from bolting and slipping past you as you exit or enter. Pets can stay stressed for hours after the fireworks stop – don’t discount they may bolt even after the fireworks have died down. If possible, keep pets locked out of rooms where a door to the outside might be opened.
  3. Pet ID: Check that your pets’ collars are secure, with up-to-date and readable pet ID tags. Call your microchip company to verify that their microchips have your current contact information.
  4. Turn on the TV or music. Put the volume as loud enough to muffle any fireworks noises, but it doesn’t have to be blasting! If you have a CD player, definitely check out Through A Dog’s Ear — the Adopt-a-Pet.com staff uses this for their anxious dogs and they really help!
  5. Don’t coddle pets if they are scared. That rewards and encourages scared behavior. Talk in a normal voice, act indifferent to the sounds. If you are calm and relaxed, this will encourage them to follow your lead.
  6. Distract with a toy or chew. Give your pet a special food-stuffed toy or long-lasting chew treat, to encourage their mind focus on that, not the noises outside.
  7. Daily exercise. Give your dogs and cats their normal “big” exercise session every day leading up to, on, and after the holiday. Exercise helps relieve stress.
  8. Homeopathic anxiety remedies. Try one like Rescue Remedy, sold at Whole Foods and at many pet stores too, or at  rescueremedy.com. If you know your pet gets dangerously distressed during fireworks, talk to your vet about possible short-term medication.
  9. Thundershirt. This reportedly helps with fireworks too! Order online at thundershirt.com.
  10. Stay home with your pets. If possible, do not leave your pets alone, (and never outside), during Independence Day fireworks celebration nights.

Have a safe and happy 4th of July!
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