We love our pets, and we love our fireworks, but it just so happens that our pets don’t love our fireworks. Although fireworks entertain people, the sky-bound explosions are known to terrify and traumatize pets. Noise aversion is natural in animals, most of which have heightened hearing, so responsible pet owners should be keen to the needs of their pets during summer festivities, especially Fourth of July weekend. Some words of advice:
-Do not take your pet(s) to fireworks shows. The explosions, flashes and smoke of fireworks startle and upset pets, or worse. Because fireworks can stress and scare pets, they are likely to run away and become lost in their disorientation. Be sure that your pet wears a collar with identification tags, or microchip them.
-If possible, stay with your pet. Your presence will comfort your pet and prevent bad, or even destructive, behavior. Do not yell at your pet as this will create more stress for it.
-Do not leave your pet unattended, tied outdoors, or locked in your vehicle, especially on hot days. To prevent heat stroke, leave your pet in a cool, ventilated space with drinking water.
-It is best to keep pets inside and protected from the sensory effects of fireworks. Your pets will seek safety by whining, pacing, and hiding, so it is preferable to provide a safe space for them. Make a comfortable, safe space for your pet to occupy. Leaving familiar blankets, toys or even clothes with your scent can help calm your pet.
-Keep windows, doors, and pet doors/flaps closed with curtains drawn. This will help muffle the sounds, block the lights, and keep out the odors of fireworks. To further mask the noise of fireworks, keep the TV on or play music.
-After the fireworks have finished but before you let your pets outside, check your yard for debris. Chemicals found in fireworks can be toxic if consumed. For digestion of chemicals or anxiety treatment for pets, consult a veterinarian for professional help or medication.
For dog owners who wish to prevent stress in dogs, be sure to walk them earlier than the fireworks are scheduled to occur. Allow time for your dog to relieve themselves outdoors to prevent having to let them outside later, and to prevent accidents in the home. Feed your dog prior to fireworks, as the anxiety from the explosions might prevent it from eating. Provide water and reward calm behavior.
Cats will often hide in a safe space, though some seek their owners for comfort. It is recommended that cat owners leave food and water out for their cat. Do not attempt to lift, carry, or otherwise move a fearful cat unless it is in immediate danger as this may cause more undue stress. Be sure to lock catflaps.
Bird owners should acclimate their birds to a small “sleep cage” and dark environment prior to firework season. Take precautions so that birds do not flap hazardously in their cages. As with other pets, provide food, water, and comfort.
To prevent horses from being spooked or running off, keep them sheltered and secure your fencing. Consider calming agents for especially startled horses.
Research indicates that your reptiles and fish should be fine during fireworks, but just to be sure, keep your reptiles under a heat lamp and your fish, well, in water.
Enjoy the season!
Toledo Animal Shelter: https://toledoanimalrescue.org/news-events/fireworks.html