Saturday, July 01, 2006

From my soapbox: Fireworks Safety for Pets

It’s that time of the year again… it’s the 4th of July weekend, and the skies will soon be filled with flashes of red, white and blue. With the brilliant displays comes lots of noise, often loud and explosive. In addition to large fireworks displays, neighborhoods are filled with the snap, crackle and pop from a variety of noisemakers including firecrackers, cherry bombs and bottle rockets.

And while I love this time of year and love going to watch fireworks, I realize that one of our dogs is miserable during this time. She is absolutely terrified of lightening, thunder and fireworks. In fact, as I type this, neighbors are shooting of firecrackers, etc and Yelda is anxiously sitting beside me, panting, and very stressed. Just a few minutes ago, we were outside for her nightly stroll when she heard a firecracker. She jumped and flew to the house, anxious to get inside to safety.

Her anxiety reminded me of another dog that was terrified of fireworks. Just last year, there was a little Jack Russell Terrier who had been left out in the back yard. When the nightly fireworks started he panicked and managed to escape from his yard. He ran and ran and ran and was soon quite far from his home. He was found the next morning on campus by some students. Eventually his owners were found and the confessed that they had been extremely careless in leaving him outside.

There are certain things one can do to protect their pets during holidays like the 4th. They are listed below:

  • Keep all fireworks away from animals
  • Leave all pets at home when you go to watch fireworks
  • All pets should be left inside. Do not leave them outside, even in a fenced in yard.
  • Make sure that they are comfortable and secure indoors with the curtains drawn. Leave a television or radio on… this will help to cover up the noise caused by fireworks
  • Make sure that all pets have collars and proper id tags and licenses on. In case they do escape, this will make it easier for people who find your pet to get in touch with you and reunite you with your pet.
  • Cats tend to hide when they’re scared. It’s important to not force them from their hiding places. Cats will come out when they’re no longer frightened.
  • If you’re at home with your pet, it’s very important to act calm. Do not baby or mollycoddle them. I know it’s hard (speaking from personal experience) but if you do try and comfort your pet, the pet’s fears will be reinforced. Instead, play with your pet, and try and keep it’s attention off of what’s happening outside.
  • Some animals have such an extreme fear to fireworks, that you may want to check with your vet about using a mild sedative.

These celebrations are meant to be enjoyable. By taking these precautions, your pets will be safe and you’ll all have a happier, healtier holiday.

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