Fourth of July Can Be A Dud For Pets!
Independence Day is not a time of celebration for our pets. The fireworks that we humans find so thrilling can drive pets, especially dogs, into a state of utter panic. The explosions (even miles away), the high-pitched swoosh of rockets climbing into the sky, the flashes of light — these can all be overwhelming sensory assaults. If your pet is terrified of fireworks, you probably know the signs: He cowers, trembles in fear or hides and appears disoriented. Some dogs become so frightened they take drastic action. They can crash through a screen door, jump out of a window or leap a fence. Every year, local animal shelters have their hands full dealing with lost dogs that bolted on July 4, cats that have gone to ground and anxious owners looking for them. Sadly, some lost pets are never recovered. There are ways to make July 4 safer and less stressful for pets. Most importantly, don’t take your pets to places where there may be fireworks. Many of us consider our pets members of the family, so it’s natural to include them in our activities and they unquestionably thrive on human companionship.
But we must recognize that certain activities, like fireworks, aren’t pleasant — or safe — for them. Keep your pet inside as much as possible on July 4 (and for a few days before and after if your pet is extremely phobic about fireworks).
● Confine him in a quiet, sheltered area of your home that’s protected from outside sounds.
● Shut the windows and close the blinds and curtains.
● Turn on a TV or radio to drown out the noise.
● Stay home with your pet, especially at night when the fireworks get going and distract him by playing games with his favorite toys. If you can’t stay home to keep an eye on your pet, take extra precautions to keep him safe.
● Make sure all the windows and doors are closed tightly.
● If your dog is crate trained, leave him in his crate so he won’t run or lunge and hurt himself when the fireworks begin.
● Make sure your pet is wearing ID tags or has been microchipped, in case he does somehow escape and run away.
● Don’t, under any circumstances, leave a pet outside, even if he’s fenced or tied. If a dog panics, he could escape from a fenced area or injure himself by becoming tangled in his leash (fireworks aside, it’s never a good idea to leave a dog tied up and unsupervised).
Medication may help ease the stress for pets that are extremely fearful of fireworks. But don’t wait until your pet is in the midst of a fireworks-induced panic to get medical advice. Check with your vet before the holiday to see if tranquilizers are advisable and to determine the correct dose. Independence Day also means barbecues and picnics. To prevent accidental burns to your pets, always use caution around outside cooking devices.
The holiday also means a lot of good food for humans that’s not necessarily healthy for your pet. Monitor his scrounging, and keep fatty foods, chocolate and alcohol out of his reach. And remember, never leave your animal unattended in a vehicle; heat build-up can be rapid and life threatening. Dr. Jeffrey Proulx is the director of veterinary services at the San Francisco SPCA. If you have any questions about dogs or cats, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more 4th of July Safety Tips, check out this article by the ASPCA