The Fourth of July is one of the most dangerous times of the year for pets, having the highest number of missing pet reports than any other.
This is primarily due to fireworks, which can frighten and disorient dogs and cats causing them to panic and run off. The 4th is also when friends and family get together for fun things like cooking out and celebrating, which can also create some problems when pets are involved. To help keep your pets safe this year, we’d like to give you a few tips for your July 4th celebrations!
1. Keep your pets indoors. Even though they’re part of your family and love to go places with you, there are very few pets who are comfortable with fireworks on the Fourth. Even if you have a fenced backyard, it is best not to let pets out unsupervised if there is a chance of them jumping the fence or injuring themselves if frightened. Outdoor cats should be brought inside and put somewhere comfortable. If you cannot bring them in the house, consider housing them in the garage for the night.
2. Create a safe haven for your pets. An interior room with no windows is ideal, since it will help to muffle the sound of fireworks and prevent your pets from injuring themselves trying to escape. Make sure there are no areas your pet can squeeze into if frightened. If your dog is crate trained consider leaving them in their crate while fireworks are going on.
3. Make sure your pets have on a collar and tags with a current phone number to contact you if they get lost. In fact, we recommend having your pets microchipped since collars and tags can fall off. If your pet is microchipped, make sure that you have all of your information with the microchip company up to date. You can schedule to get your pets microchipped any time.
4. Create distractions. Play with your pets calmly, and don’t feed into any anxiety they experience. If you have plans to go out put peanut butter or treats inside an indestructible bone, or purchase a puzzle for your dog to figure out while the fireworks are going on. You can also leave the television or radio playing to help distract from the sound of fireworks.
5. Consider a Thundershirt. A Thundershirt a security shirt that applies gentle pressure to help soothe your dog. It was originally designed to help dogs with thunderstorm anxiety, but works very well for fireworks too. Your dog must be trained to wear it in order for it to work effectively. They do make thundershirts for cats, but we have not had any real experience with them. We've tried it on KP... she just fell over and wouldn't move. I didn't get the feeling it was because it made her super calm.
6. Sometimes anxiety is severe enough that you may consider using calming treats or medications. There is no way that we can make a blanket statement that all calming treats are safe or effective, but if you would like to know about a specific product you can call and speak with one of our doctors anytime. You can take a picture, or bring up the product so that the doctors can look over the listed ingredients. There are also some medications that may be appropriate for your pets if they get severely anxious or are at risk for harming themselves. This should be discussed with one of our doctors, taking into account your pet's medical history.
7. If you have a cookout, make sure your guests know not to feed your pets table scraps. Some human food is harmless, and some human food is dangerous, but even harmless food in large amounts can be dangerous. Things like chocolate, grapes, and alcohol are very dangerous if consumed. Even if your pet is fine eating a little cheese or burger, a little food from each person adds up.
8. Keep dangerous items out of reach. There are a whole lot of things that go along with celebrating the Fourth that can be dangerous. Citronella candles, tiki torches (and the oil), matches, lighter fluid, glow jewelry, insect repellent and sunscreen are just a few of these. These all seem like things that pets wouldn't eat, but you’d be surprised by the things we’ve seen here at Bon Air Animal Hospital.
We hope that you all have a safe and happy Fourth of July!