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4th of July Pet Safety Tips

4th of July pet safety may mean avoiding fireworks

Oh, the thrill of celebrating the 4th of July! Crowds of family and friends, sparklers, firecrackers, fireworks, tons of food…all of it’s festive and fun – at least, it is for humans. For pets, our Independence Day celebrations can cause illness, anxiety, injuries and even death if we don’t take some steps to safeguard them. Dogs in particular are likely to suffer from anxiety and behave in uncharacteristic ways when they are subject to more noise, activity and (to their eyes) strange behaviors. Studies show that the week leading up to and including the 4th of July is when more pets are injured and/or lost than any other time of year.

To ensure 4th of July pet safety, be sure to keep a few things in mind:

  • Pets are extremely sensitive to noise, so the sound of firecrackers and fireworks can be very stressful. Keep your pets inside whenever fireworks are going off. Turning on the TV or radio can help mask the sounds of all but the loudest explosions.
  • Flashing lights and sparklers can be frightening for pets. Don’t light them near your pets and make sure children of all ages know NOT to chase your dog or cat with any of these, including sparklers. What children love about sparklers is what is scary for dogs and cats.
  • If you have to take your dog outside, keep him on a leash at all times and talk to him frequently to keep him calm.
  • Make sure visitors to your house this 4th of July know that open doors are a no-no. Frightened animals may bolt out the door and run, risking being lost or hit by a car.
  • Make sure you have a recent photograph of your pet. If she gets lost, it will make it easier to identify her if she is found by someone or ends up in a shelter. Also make sure her collar and pet ID tags are securely fastened so that a good Samaritan can call you if they find your pet.
  • If the picnic is at your house or you’re taking your dog with you to a gathering, make sure you feed her a small amount of food to curb begging from others. Let people know that your pet shouldn’t be given any table scraps or treats. Some of the tastiest tidbits (pulled pork, for instance) can cause pancreatitis, a painful and potentially lethal illness.
  • It’s best to keep cats inside during the week surrounding the 4th of July, as the incidences of animal cruelty increases during this holiday. Don’t sacrifice 4th of July pet safety by letting your cat prowl after dark.
  • If your dog enjoys being outside, take him for longer walks than normal early in the day when there will be fireworks at night. Tiring him out a bit may minimize his reaction to all the hoopla at night.
  • Close your curtains or cover your dog’s crate so that he has somewhere to retreat to where there isn’t a lot of visual over-stimulation.
  • If you’ll be leaving your pets alone for all or part of the day, give them a new toy or a special treat before you leave. Occupying them with activities they enjoy can help distract them from the more stressful elements of the 4th of July.
  • Consider investing in one of the pet wraps that use gentle pressure to calm anxious pets. Thundershirt and Original Anxiety Wrap are two brands that have been shown to help many pets with anxiety problems. These can also be used effectively if your pets are afraid of thunderstorms and other loud noises.
  • There are also natural, holistic treatments to calm anxious pets that you can give your cat or dog. VetriScience makes Composure, a chewy treat for pets that can work wonders. Sometimes the best way to ensure 4th of July pet safety is also the most natural. Talk to a veterinarian for more options.
  • If your pet’s anxiety is severe, talk to your veterinarian a few days before any big celebrations. Your vet may prescribe a mild sedative to help your pet relax.
  • One of the easiest ways to ensure 4th of July pet safety and comforts is to forego the fireworks and any firecrackers altogether. Attend the picnics, enjoy the day, but be at home to reassure your pet and cuddle her when the worst of the noise and excitement is going on.

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