If you’re a pet parent, you know furry friends are usually not amused by fireworks – in fact, most are downright terrified of them. Take a moment to consider the spectacle from their vantage point: unexplained bursts of bewildering light. The crashing BOOM as fireworks explode overhead. The smoke and smell of gunpowder lingering long after the display fades back into night. Factor in the cheers and applause from a crowd, and you have a recipe for sensory overload.
It’s no wonder that more pets go missing on the Fourth of July than any other day of the year. In fact, 20 percent of pets go missing after being scared by loud noises, according to the ASPCA.
Even pets who aren’t typically prone to anxiety can be scared of the loud noises brought on by fireworks. If your pet is fearful or anxious, they may pace, pant, tremble, hide, salivate, growl, or whine.
So what can we do to make our companions more comfortable while we celebrate? Here are some tips to keep your four-legged loves safe as the Fourth of July approaches.
1. Keep Pets Away from Fireworks
Fireworks are dangerous, full stop. They sent 10,000 people to the ER for injuries in 2019, and 58 percent of those injuries were burns. But animals get hurt, too. According to the ASPCA, every Fourth of July, Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) sees an uptick in calls over pets who have ingested fireworks, which are full of chemicals and heavy metals.
So don’t risk your pet’s emotional or physical wellbeing by letting them around fireworks. Keep them safely indoors, and make sure they don’t go outside unattended. You don’t want the loud noises to cause them to bolt. If you can’t leave your pet at home, keep them leashed and under your supervision.
If you set off fireworks at home, thoroughly clean up so your curious pup doesn’t eat the remnants. If your pet does ingest fireworks, contact Animal Poison Control or take your pet to the emergency vet right away.
2. Register Your Pet’s Microchip
If your fur baby gets loose on the Fourth, a registered microchip can make a world of difference in how quickly you reunite. So if you haven’t already, this is your sign to get your pet microchipped and registered. Microchipping costs about $45 at most vet offices. Registering the microchip at a pet recovery database costs around $20 a year. Be sure to keep the database up to date with your most recent contact information, including your address and phone number.
These are some of the most common pet recovery databases where you can register the microchip:
- Found Animals (this one is free)
- HomeAgain (most popular)
- AKC Reunite
- ACA’s Microchip Animal Rapid Recovery Services
- Homeward Bound Pet
As an extra precaution, you might want to make sure your pets are wearing collars with ID tags in case they make a desperate attempt to escape the noise. ID tags should have the name of your pet, your address, and your phone number.
If your pet does go missing, contact local animal shelters, animal control, and your vet. You can also report your lost pet on the microchip registry.
For more tips, check out “Pet Disaster Preparedness: Keep Your Pets Safe in an Emergency.”
3. Keep Your Pets Pleasantly Distracted
Fireworks are jarring, but the easy viewing of Animal Planet may be just what your stressed pooch needs to keep their mind off the chaos outside. Turning on some music or TV can help soften the intermittent noises from fireworks and ease the effect for your pets.
If you don’t plan on going out for celebrations that night, you can curl up with your favorite fur friend and give them a pet of reassurance when the noise gives them a fright.
4. Ask Your Vet for Help
If your companion has serious anxiety, it might be worthwhile to explore some treatments at the direction of your vet. For example, your vet may recommend trying a Thundershirt , which applies pressure to the chest and helps ease anxiety for many noise-averse pets. If you don’t have one, a snug t-shirt may do the trick.
Your vet may also recommend anti-anxiety medication, depending on the severity. Your vet may suggest you give a trial dose to see how your pet does before the Fourth of July. Remember that pets have a very different tolerance for medications than humans, and you should administer the medication exactly as your vet prescribes.
5. Watch Out for Heat Stroke
With record highs sweeping the US, you probably don’t need us to remind you how dangerous the heat can be for your four-legged pals (and humans, for that matter). That’s yet another reason to keep your pets safely inside during the Fourth of July: you don’t want to run the risk of heat stroke. If your pet must be outside, make sure they have ample access to shade and water, and keep an eye out for these signs of heat stroke:
- Excessive panting.
- Increased heart rate.
- Confusion or disorientation.
- Vomiting or diarrhea.
- Bright red gums.
- Body temperature higher than 104° F.
- Collapse, seizure, or coma.
Remember that hot pavement can burn your pup’s paws, so if you can’t hold your hand on the ground for five seconds, it’s not safe for your dog’s sweet feet either.
Don’t leave your pet in a parked car, even if it doesn’t seem that warm. No matter how cool it may seem outside, temperatures in closed vehicles can climb to 116 degrees in less than an hour, which can be fatal.
There you have it, friends. Have a safe and happy 4th, and give your dogs a hug for us.