Fireworks and Pets: How to Protect Animals on July 4th

Not to mention that when scared dogs run away and owners can lose their best friends overnight.

“Dogs have been known to dig under or jump over fences, break ties or even smash windows in response to their fears of fireworks,” according to Best Friends Animal Society, one of the oldest agencies. of non-slaughter of the country.

This leaves dogs on the loose, potentially being hit by cars, picked up by strangers, or even turned into local animal shelters, which may still have limited hours due to the pandemic. Anxious pet owners may face obstacles in identifying and saving their pet.

Danger to all types of pets

Statistics show that at least 40% of dogs have noise phobias, which can include fear of thunderstorms, leaf blowers, electric drills, and even hairdryers. But these noises are relatively constant, experts say, while fireworks are frighteningly sporadic and therefore unexpected.

“Many animals associate loud noises with danger,” said Dr Michelle Lugones, veterinarian of the Best Friends Animal Society. “From an evolutionary standpoint, they are wired to avoid perceived threats, so it’s no surprise that fireworks are distressing for many animals.”

It’s not just the dogs. Cats and many other domestic and wild animals have sensitive hearing, provided by nature to find and hunt prey.

“It’s very likely that cats suffer from fireworks phobia as much as dogs,” Lugones said. “But since cats tend to be more independent in the home and generally run and hide in frightening situations, their owners may simply not realize that they are worried about fires. artifice.”

Before the 4th of July fireworks celebrations, prepare to protect your animal companions.

Small pets such as rabbits and guinea pigs are prey species and are therefore easily stressed, Lugones continued, adding that “unfortunately, rabbits can even die from extreme fear, especially if they are suffering from an underlying disease. They can also injure themselves while trying to flee. “

Cows are social animals, Lugones said, so loud noises could frighten an entire herd, while horses are also a prey species that can easily be frightened by fireworks.

“It is perhaps less understood how reptiles and birds react to fireworks, but they too react to stress, so care needs to be taken for them,” she said.

Prepare your pet before dark

The key to helping your pet survive this frightening onslaught is being prepared, said Dr. Douglas Kratt, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Tags and microchips. Make sure your pet has a properly fitted collar with current ID tags, Kratt said. If your pet has a microchip, make sure your correct contact details are registered with the veterinary clinic or shelter that implanted the microchip.

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That way, if your pet escapes overnight, you can immediately call and alert the vet or shelter that they are away.

Exercise before dark. A tired dog is a calmer dog. A happy cat is a more relaxed cat, Kratt said. Allow extra play time for your cats and take the dogs out to play and exercise well before dark. Such activities burn extra energy, thus reducing anxiety later when it is time to sleep.

Bring all animals inside. Don’t leave your pet outside to suffer alone. Put a dog’s crate or bed in the quietest, most closed room possible, Kratt said.

“Keep windows and curtains closed to further muffle sounds, and take the time to see what works best for your dog, like dimming the lights or covering the crate with a blanket,” he said.

Cats like to go high up to feel safe, so provide them with a cozy covered cave that is raised off the ground, like a cabin on an indoor cat tree or in a closet.

Distract your pet. Provide lots of new toys and durable chews and treats. Food puzzles can also distract them from annoying noises.

Use calming aids. Many pets react to “thunder” shirts or blankets that envelop them in a heavy, soothing cocoon. Cats and dogs often like to smell species-specific pheromones. Cats can wear collars with scents that mimic the pheromones that mother cats produce to calm their kittens. Dogs react to the scent of lactating bitches, aptly called the “Dog Soothing Pheromone,” or DAP.

Use soothing sounds. First, muffle sounds by closing curtains and doors near your pet. Soothing music or white noise like fans or television, but not too loud, can be used to produce comfortable and familiar sounds.

Humans must also remain calm. If you don’t like fireworks either, try to stay calm with your pet anyway, Kratt said.

“Our pets can look to us to see how we react and be influenced by our behavior,” he said. “Try not to overreact to fireworks or your pets’ distress.”

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Use medication as a last resort. While there is nothing wrong with turning to your vet for calming medication, experts fear pet owners may rely on this first, without following the behavior modification tips below. above. But if you’ve tried all of these ideas and your furry friend is still in a panic, ask your vet for advice.

Keep animals away from your fireworks. If your pet isn’t disturbed by noise and you plan to set off your own fireworks, be sure to keep your pet indoors and safe. Some dogs can “chase after bright moving objects and risk being burned or blinded in the process,” explains Best Friends Animal Society.

Plus, many fireworks also contain “poisonous if swallowed” so make sure you store your fireworks safely where a pet can’t find them.

When the fireworks end

The dangers to pets extend beyond explosive fireworks, Kratt said.

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“The Fourth presents other risks to our pets, such as an abundance of unhealthy and accessible foods at parties, dangerous summer heat, and dangerous debris on the ground after fireworks,” Kratt said. .

Before you let your pet roam free in the yard the next day, check them carefully for leftovers and pieces of exploded fireworks.

“Even if you haven’t set off any fireworks yourself, debris can find its way into your backyard, where curious animals can pick it up to play with or eat,” Kratt said.

Both used and unused fireworks are toxic to pets, Lugones said.

“Depending on the chemicals they contain, fireworks can cause serious gastrointestinal signs such as vomiting, bloody diarrhea, abdominal pain and obstruction by a foreign body,” she said. . “They can also cause acute kidney failure, breathing difficulties and seizures. If you think your pet has ingested fireworks, contact a veterinarian immediately.”

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