July 2, 2015

Fireworks And Pets: Don’t Mix

Author: Kristin Skelton


Safety Tips For Pets And Fireworks Season

Though the weather reports may disagree, this week marks the beginning of July! With a long holiday weekend ahead full of barbecues, family gatherings and fireworks, be sure to take a few moments to prepare your pets for the 4th of July.

According to the American Humane Association:

July 5 is the busiest day of the year at animal shelters, as companion animals that fled in fright the night before are found miles from their homes, disoriented and exhausted. Anxious families often find themselves searching the streets and shelters looking for a treasured family member whose fear drove him to jump a high fence or break his leash or chain. If your pet is upset by thunder, a door slamming or other loud noises, 4th of July fireworks will be utterly terrifying.

Loud noses can hurt your pet’s sensitive ears, so fireworks are often extremely frightening. 4th of July festivities can cause ordinarily well-behaved pets to be fearful, become aggressive, destructive and/or unpredictable. Pets can retreat miles away from home, jump high fences and perform other amazing feats while high on adrenaline.

Take the following precautions to help your pets through the upcoming 4th of July weekend:

Identification. Make sure your pets are wearing securely fitted collars with ID tags and make sure your microchip information is up to date if your pets are chipped. While we all want to take steps to avoid pet loss in the first place, if something goes awry this will greatly increase your chances of recovering your pet.

Just Leave Them At Home. If you are going to partake in a fireworks show, leave your pet at home. Find a quiet secure spot at your house and give them safe toys and treats to occupy and distract them while you are away. However, do not leave pets outside, even in a fenced in yard. Consider locking your doggie door while you are away.

Consider A Low-Key Celebration. If you know your pet is upset by fireworks, considering hanging out at home with them in lieu of attending a fireworks display. Or, enlist a professional pet sitter to stop in to check on them and provide positive activities and company.

Don’t Coddle, Don’t Scold. Rather than coddle a frightened pet, work on desensitizing them to the noise. Distract your pet with physical activity or other positive associations. Scolding a fearful dog will only reinforce their fearful behavior. Let your pet know you are unbothered by the noise and they will follow suit.

Tranquilize? While often a last resort, your vet may be able to prescribe a tranquilizer if your dog is extremely stressed during the holiday. Also, non-prescription remedies, such Bach Flower Rescue Remedy, can also help calm your pet during holiday stressors.

Behavior Modification. For future 4th of Julys, you may want to get the ball rolling with an animal behaviorist and work with your pet to overcome their fears. With positive reinforcement and behavior modification you may be able to enjoy future holidays with fewer precautions.

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