Every year on the 5th of July, lost animals wind up at animal shelters all across the nation. The reason: Fourth of July fireworks. Cats and dogs often become alarmed and disoriented during July 4th celebrations and may bolt from their yards or homes, resulting in a lost pet and a heartbroken owner. The best option is to leave them at home. Adam Goldfarb, director of the Pets at Risk program for the Humane Society of the United States says, “Pets are family members, and it’s understandable that people want to include them in their holiday plans. However, most pets will be more comfortable staying at home. Spare our furry friends the stress of fireworks, crowds, and fanfare on the Fourth of July.”
If your pet is frightened of thunder or other loud noises, veterinarian Janet Crosby recommends trying behavior modification. This involves playing a recording of thunder at very low levels. Dr. Crosby says to use the time to reassure your pet that everything is fine. Gradually increase the volume slowly over time, if your pet is able to handle the sounds without getting stressed. She urges pet owners to start slow and be sure to praise your pet for being calm.
Here are some other precautions pet owners should take during the Fourth of July:
• Resist the urge to take your pet to fireworks displays and never use fireworks around pets. Obviously, severe burns can result if your pet is exposed to lit fireworks. In addition, unused fireworks can be dangerous to pets. Many types contain potentially toxic substances, including potassium nitrate, arsenic, and other heavy metals. Also be aware that certain types of matches contain chlorates, which could potentially damage blood cells and result in difficulty breathing—or even kidney disease in severe cases.
• Do not leave your pet in the car during fireworks. Aside from experiencing heat stroke in a hot car, pets can also injure themselves trying to escape from a car if they are frightened of fireworks.
• Keep your pets indoors at home in a sheltered, quiet area. It’s best to keep your pets in a locked room that’s pet-proofed. Scared animals can become destructive and may be harmed if they ingest something they shouldn’t.
• Experts recommend leaving a television or radio on to keep your pet company. There’s a music series called “through a dog’s ear” that claims to provide clinically tested solutions to anxiety issues for dogs. For more information, visit www.throughadogsear.com.
• If you know that your pet is seriously distressed by loud noises like thunder, consult with your veterinarian before July 4th for ways to help alleviate the fear and anxiety. You may want to consider having someone remain home with your pet.
• Never leave pets outside unattended, even in a fenced yard or on a chain. Pets who normally won’t leave the yard, may escape at the sound of fireworks. It’s best to keep all pets inside.
• Make sure your pets are wearing identification tags so that if they do become lost, they can be returned. Since shelters receive numerous stray animals after a fireworks event, make sure your pet doesn’t become a statistic. Ensure that proper identification is on all your pets.
While I am all in favor of celebrating our country’s independence, I would like to see a shift from fireworks to alternative but equally impressive displays. Laser light shows are just as remarkable as fireworks, but cause less pollution, are less of a fire danger, don’t displace wild animals, and are much more humane.
By Courtesy Photo