Are you worried about your pet during the Fourth of July fireworks celebration? After working in a veterinary hospital for years, I have come across the number one complaint that owners inquire about during the holiday season “protection against firework anxiety:”
As a child, I grew up in a household with quite a few pets, including our ‘chicken-liver’ German Shepherd. Whether she heard thunder, strong winds or et cetera I would say firework season was the most terrifying moment in her doggy life. My family tried absolutely everything to get this “normally unyielding breed” from putting her in the basement to aromatherapy but nothing worked very well. Let’s face it, some dogs just have a natural instinct to fear those loud crashing sounds of the chemical combustion of gunpowder. The Fourth of July does not have to be dreaded by pet owners though; here are some solutions that have been found to calm those jittery animals.
1. Keep pets indoors during the day and night during the holiday season. Pets that are easily freaked out will have high levels of stamina and can easily break through a tethered or fenced in area.
2. If pets must be outdoors, try to keep smaller animals in carriers or on a short lease around you. Be careful never to have a child handle the pet during the fireworks though. Even the gentlest animal can get enraged and hurt children during the highest peaks of the fireworks. Never take a pet to a firework show.
3. Never leave a pet in a car unattended during any moment of the holiday season. There have been stories of pet owners going in a grocery store for “just a moment” and someone nearby threw one of those snap-n-pop fireworks on the ground and scared the pet. If you plan on going outside the car at anytime, leave the pet at home.
4. At the veterinary hospital that I work, there are too many cases during the holiday season where animals have hurt themselves because of close contact with dangerous objects. Try to remove all dangerous objects that could cause harm by a panic-stricken dog. This also includes agricultural animals such as horses in stalls.
5. Keep children away from pets during the holiday season when using sparklers. Sparklers are notorious to splashing sparks around and can hit the pet. Sparklers can not only burn a pet but also scare one that is not used to seeing the flying sparks.
6. Try placing cotton balls in the ears of pets during the holiday season. If you or someone near your house is planning on celebrating with fireworks, place cotton balls in the ears of the pet before starting the festivities. Please remember that pets do have eardrums, just like humans, therefore do not push the cotton ball in the ear too much. My rule of thumb is to only place the cotton ball as far in as I would place a Q-tip in my own ear.
7. For those extremely anxious animals, ask your attending veterinarian to prescribe a mild sedative or tranquilizer to be used during the highest peak of the firework celebration. This is extremely helpful for those owners that live on lakes, since lakes are the highest celebrated locations.
8. Remember to place Identification tags on all animals before the festivities begin each day. My family automatically places our pets’ tags on the whole week of the Fourth of July for protection. Even if your pet has been micro chipped, it is wise to remember to place the I.D. tags on the collar of the animal. This action will increase the potential return of animals that have run off to hide from the loud noises. Since there are quite a lot of runaway animals during this season, animal shelters make contact with the owner with tags on before those without.
9. During the firework show, try turning on the television or radio for distraction to the anxious animal.
10. Remember to pick up the leftover fireworks and exploded fireworks after the celebration. Pets should never come in contact with leftover fireworks since they contain gunpowder and sometimes other chemicals.
These are ten tips to get through those otherwise fearful firework shows when you have fearful pets in the house or on the farm. Taking special caution to the whereabouts of your pet before, during and after the celebration is extremely important. Pets have been known to have heart attacks or have inflicted personal damage to their bodies during times of loud noises. With the proper protection, everything will run as smoothly as possible considering the time of the year. Protect your animals and have a good time this holiday season!