Pets and fireworks

Even your patriotic pup can be afraid of fireworks. Make sure to keep them safe from getting lost or hurt during the Fourth of July weekend

As humans make plans for celebrating America’s birthday with cookouts, parties and fireworks, dog owners should also make plans to keep their pets safe and at home. While we may love the way fire works light up the sky, for many dogs fireworks are a traumatic event.

Christian Turley with the Pell City Animal Control Center recommended pet owners “keep them inside or on a leash,” during the Fourth of July weekend.

“It’s fairly simple to make your home a tranquil place for your pets on July 4th,” said Erin Katribe, veterinarian and medical director of Best Friends Animal Society. “The last thing you want is an emergency over a holiday, when many veterinary clinics are closed or open only for limited hours.” 

For example, if you know your pets get severely anxious, plan ahead by discussing pharmaceutical options with your veterinarian. Several medications to treat anxiety in pets are available. 

“It’s important to do this based on your pet’s weight, age, and health issues, so make sure to get the proper prescription and dosage from your veterinarian,” Katribe said. “Milder anxiety can be helped with supplements, such as those containing tryptophan, or a Thundershirt, which swaddles your pet and comforts them.” 

If your dog does get loose, having your four-legged friend microchipped is a good way to make sure you’ll be reunited, Turley said.

“That helps get them back to their owners, but you need to make sure the information is up-to-date,” he said. He cautions, too, that owners sometimes have to register their animal with the chip company. “It’s heartbreaking when we scan an animal and it has a chip, but it hasn’t been registered yet,” said Turley.

He also suggests owners of missing pets contact shelters in surrounding areas, too, and provide a picture of their animal. “They may tell us the dog is brown and not realize we have a lot of brown dogs,” he said.

Best Friends Animal Society offers these additional tips to keep your pets as safe as possible during the holiday:  

• Bring all pets indoors whenever neighborhood fireworks displays are likely, making sure that any potentially harmful food or alcohol is kept out of reach. 

• Secure pets in a room, close the widows, draw the curtains, and play loud music or turn on the television to drown out the frightening sounds.  

• Keep pets away from lit fireworks at all times, including your own backyard, as some will chase after the bright moving objects and are at risk to be burned or blinded in the process.   

• Many fireworks also contain substances that are toxic if ingested, so be sure to keep unlit fireworks out of reach. 

• Ensure that pets are wearing current identification tags, and make sure your current contact info is recorded with the vet clinic or shelter that implanted the microchip.  

• Have a plan in place in case your pet does go missing that includes calling and visiting the local shelter and posting information about your missing pet on platforms such as Nextdoor and Facebook.

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