Pets and Fireworks – Not a Safe Mix
Originally posted at BestFriends.org on June 30, 2009 : 12:17 PM
Tips for keeping your pets safe on the Fourth of July
by Barbara J. Koll, Best Friends Network volunteer
At almost every fireworks display, you see someone who has brought their beloved pooch with them. That is almost never a good idea. Fireworks displays can be stressful, disorienting and frightening for dogs. Your normally calm pooch might get spooked and confused by the noise, crowds and bright lights and become afraid or aggressive or run off. Even if you leave your dog at home, dogs who are not normally frightened by loud noises may panic from the cumulative effects of fireworks, noisy crowds outside the house and being left alone.
Dogs and cats have an acute sense of hearing and fireworks will be particularly loud and frightening to them. Pets frequently become more sensitive to loud noises as they grow older. Even if they have not reacted in the past they may become unexpectedly or uncharacteristically fearful.
Pets, children and fireworks can create a particularly dangerous situation as frightened animals can unintentionally hurt a child. Children may not realize that waving sparklers or setting off firecrackers could upset the family pet. Educate your children on the dangers of fireworks around pets.
Some pets don’t even seem to notice fireworks. Others do well simply by having their owner nearby, talking to them and petting or holding them. Others cannot be calmed by anything because they are simply too frightened.
Common signs of noise phobia:
Some of the normal signs that you pet is afraid of fireworks or other loud noises include shaking and trembling, barking and howling, excessive drooling, frantic pacing, attempting to hide, not eating and trying to escape from the house, car or enclosed yard.
The signs noted above are general signs and could be related to diseases or conditions unrelated to noise phobia. Contact your veterinarian if these signs continue after the fireworks are over or if you suspect that your pet has been injured or poisoned during the holiday celebrations.
Tips for keeping your pets safe over the Fourth of July holiday
Preventing pet problems during holiday celebrations is easy by simply planning ahead, practicing safety and taking some basic precautions. You and your human family can enjoy the excitement of the Fourth of July and know that your animal companions are safe and enjoying peace and quiet in the safety of familiar surroundings.
• Never leave your pets alone outside where they can become frightened and panic. Even in a fenced yard, a frightened pet can escape and get lost, injure himself or get hit by a car while trying to seek refuge.
• If you must have your pet outside, keep him on a leash or in a carrier.
• Walk your dog early in the evening before the fireworks begin.
• Keep your pets inside your house preferably in a room without any outside exposure or in a room with windows that are covered by curtains or blinds. Create a safe, secure sanctuary for them with a favorite blanket or toy and special treats. Be sure you have removed any items that could be destroyed by your pet or be harmful to them. Leave a TV or radio on to provide a distraction from the noise – preferably calming sounds or classical music. If possible, leave someone at home to comfort them if they become afraid.
• Don’t leave your pet unattended in your car – panic may cause them to damage your car and hurt themselves. With only hot air to breath, your pet can suffer serious injury in a short period of time. Partially opened windows do not provide sufficient air for your pet and can provide an invitation for your pet to be stolen.
• Make sure your pets have current ID tags in case they do run away during the festivities. On July 5, many dogs are found miles from their homes – disoriented and exhausted. Animal shelters across the country will receive “July 4th Dogs” – dogs who escape during celebrations and are rescued by animal control personnel and good Samaritans who take them to shelters.
• Never use fireworks around your pets, even on your own property. Keep your personal fireworks stored in an area inaccessible to them. Pets may try to eat fireworks and pet hair can easily catch fire if they are too close to the fireworks. If you do use fireworks on your property, pick up the fireworks debris, including used sparklers, which can be dangerous if ingested.
Ways for your pets to celebrate with you
Many people want to include their pets in their holiday celebrations. However, most cats and dogs are much more comfortable if they stay at home and maintain their normal routine during fireworks displays.
There are many safe ways to include your pet in your Fourth of July festivities. Bring them along on your picnic, take them with you to the lake or beach, or include them in your family gatherings at home. Just make sure they are safely inside with a safe place to relax before the fireworks begin.
“Each year on the 4th of July pets panic and run away from the people they love. Please keep your pets safe inside your home,” urges Sherry Woodard, Best Friends’ animal behavior consultant.
For more information:
• Holiday Hazards for Pets – from the Best Friends Pet Care Library
• Fireworks safety tips from The Humane Society of the United States
• Fourth of July Survival Kit for Cats
• Animal Planet video on pets and fireworks
Posted by Cheri Moon, Best Friends Network editor