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  • Writer's pictureKnollwood Hospital for Pets

Keep everyone safe this 4th of July

As the 4th of July holiday approaches, many of us prepare for picnics, for the chance to enjoy a rare day off in the middle of the week, and of course, fireworks. We suggest that you DON’T include your pets in the festivities. Why not? While some animals tolerate the noise and lights and foods they often don’t get to eat, others can become terrified and run away, or become very ill.

Nationwide, Animal Control reports 30 percent more lost pets over the 4th. Pets' ears are more sensitive than humans. Because animals don't understand where the noise is coming from, they often exhibit frantic behavior and run off. And because frantic pets usually seek a dark, small, quiet place to hide, it’s hard to find them. Some run miles from home before they locate that “safe” place.

Fireworks can also damage animals' ears, eyes, and skin. Some dogs and cats may even be playful with certain ground fireworks and may chase them, causing fur and mouth burns and even blindness. Debris from fireworks can cause digestive harm to pets if they eat them or even taste the wrappings because of the caustic materials used.

Jeff Darrah, Animal Control Officer, says: “Fireworks are scary to pets in general. Keep your pets inside if possible or restrained in a safe manner. Pets that are afraid will run to hide from the noise. Then they become lost. Many times during their running, they dart in front of cars and get hit causing death or severe injury. You may have to visit your vet and obtain pet sedatives to help your dog relax during what is a stressful time for them."

There are many safe and effective prescription calming options for pets, from medications like Sileo, which is administered between the check and gum for rapid absorption, to oral prescription meds, to homeopathic tablets and tinctures, to calming herbal chew treats and sprays that are effective for some pets. Most of these should be started several days in advance for best effect, especially in our area where many communities celebrate with a week or more of firework activities.

How else can you calm a scared pet and keep them safe?

  • Take them outside during early dusk to eliminate, then tuck them in their crate or in a quiet room of the house early in the night with a little food and water for comfort.

  • Birds and smaller animals are comforted by heavy blankets placed over their enclosures to lessen noise and flashing lights (make sure there is good air flow, obviously!).

  • Bunnies and small “pocket pets” may also like their cage in a quiet room of the house with extra bedding for security.

  • Close all the windows and play soothing music or the television to drown out the noise.

  • Make sure your pet has a collar with name and contact information so if found they can be returned.

  • Pets should be leashed when out for a walk so they don't hear fireworks and get spooked and run off.

The BEST way to keep everyone safe? We suggest that you use the advice above for your pets and caution for yourself and your human companions over this holiday. Pet and human food spoils quickly in the heat and can cause digestive problems. Fireworks are as hazardous to humans as to pets - tens of thousands of children and adults are injured by fireworks annually.

Remember...fireworks are not happy celebratory sounds for many Americans. Military veterans of all ages who have served our country, plus those who have ever lived in war-torn countries, can be adversely impacted by fireworks noise - which often mimics gunfire and explosions.

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