The Fourth of July is a time for us to celebrate our nation’s independence but for pets it can be an alarming and scary time. In fact, the July Fourth weekend is one of the busiest times of the year at MedVet’s emergency hospitals. Every year, pets are lost, hurt or even killed after being frightened by Fourth of July fireworks.
The bang of fireworks can spark fearful behaviors in dogs. These behaviors range from mild and non-harmful behaviors to destructive behaviors. The mild and non-harmful behaviors include whining, keeping close to their owners for support and trying to seek hiding places. Others dogs that are extremely fearful of fireworks can get worked up enough to injure themselves or property.
Below are seven cautionary steps to help protect your pet and keep them safe before and during the July 4th festivities.
1. Keep your pet on a leash
When outdoors, make sure your pet is always kept on a leash. The unexpected loud noises can frighten some dogs, causing them to run away. An unleashed pet could potentially be hit by a car or bit by another animal. Resist the urge to bring your dog with you to view community fireworks. For their safety, leave them at home.
2. Give them a spot to hide
The loud booms of fireworks can send some pets running, seeking a safe place to hide. Some pets like to hide under the bed, in a shower or bathtub or underneath a table or desk. Make sure your dog or cat has a quiet spot in your house where they can be covered and undisturbed.
3. Close any open windows
Balconies, decks and open windows can be dangerous to pets that are feeling frightened. Even cats or dogs who are usually calm have been known to jump or fall off balconies. This can lead to severe lacerations or even death. Keep your pet under your supervision and on a leash if they are on a balcony or deck. Make sure windows and screen doors are closed.
4. Drown out the noise
To help muffle the loud pops and bangs of fireworks, turn on the TV to a nature show or play some classical music for your pet. The distraction of music or TV can help your pet stay calm.
5. Fireworks are not pet-friendly
Keep all sparklers, roman candles, glow sticks, fireworks, charcoal and kabob skewers away from curious pets. Even before the festivities, keep these away from pets who might accidentally ingest them.
6. Identify your pet
Be sure your dog or cat is wearing a collar that has an identification tag with your name and phone number. If they don’t normally wear a collar, make an exception for the July 4th weekend. Even better, talk to your family veterinarian about getting your pet microchipped. A microchip is about the size of a grain of rice and can be easily inserted in between a pet’s shoulder blades. If your pet gets loose, isn’t wearing their collar and is picked up by a shelter, the staff at the shelter will scan your pet and give you a call.
7. There’s prescription medicine to help
The loud noise of fireworks can result in stress and anxiety for pets. Talk to your family veterinarian to see if your pet could benefit from prescription medicine to help calm your pet during fireworks. Sedatives can be helpful for pets that show fearful or destructive behaviors during fireworks. Be sure to give your pet the medicine ahead of time, a few hours before the fireworks begin.
Fourth of July fireworks can be no fun for some pets. Take extra caution with your furry friends this time of year. The safest place for dogs and cats to be during fireworks is inside your home, in a crate in a quiet room.
If your pet does have a problem over the Fourth of July holiday weekend, we are available to help. Call your family veterinarian or if they are closed find the MedVet location closest to you. Rest assured, we’re open on Fourth of July and throughout the holiday weekend if you need emergency care.