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Pet talk: Consider Your Pets During Fireworks Season

Fourth of July is almost here. The holiday is full of fun with family and friends. One thing for sure to be on the agenda is fireworks.

As much as humans enjoy the displays, it can be quite the opposite for our furry friends. Many pets suffer extreme anxiety from fireworks and their loud noises. More pets end up in shelters around the Fourth of July than any other time of year because fireworks scare the wits out of them.

When dogs are scared, they tend to bolt and keep running for long distances until they get far away from whatever scared them. And if fireworks keep going off, they will keep running. Cats are also known to run away to escape the loud explosions.

Below are a few suggestions to help keep your pets safe and calm during the Fourth of July celebrations.

First, make sure your pet is wearing an ID tag, even if they are microchipped, just in case they would escape. Writing your name and phone number inside the collar is also a good idea. Have a recent good quality photo of your furry friend showing any distinctive characteristics? This photograph could be invaluable in case your pet gets lost.

Keep your dogs inside as much as possible during Fourth of July celebrations, and only take them out on a leash because even the best behaved pets can become spooked when they hear fireworks. Leaving your dog in a fenced yard may seem like a safe solution, but you’d be surprised to see just how high a panicked dog can jump to get over that fence or dig to get under it. Always keep your cats in, especially during Fourth of July festivities.

Take your dog for a long walk if it’s not too hot out, or play with them before the fireworks begin to wear them out. A tired dog is more apt to be calmer and less disturbed by the noise outside. Playtime with your cat is also important for the same reason.

A plug-in diffuser that dispenses dog- or cat-appeasing pheromones into the room may help keep pets calm. A lot of folks swear by using a ThunderShirt on their pets.

Give your dog a frozen Kong (they last longer) with something yummy inside. Catnip may help calm a stressed kitty.

Leave a TV or some music playing to mask the sounds of the explosions. Keep your curtains closed to remove visual stimulation. Allow your dog or cat to hide if it makes them more comfortable. If your dog is crate trained, you may want to put them in it so they feel more secure.

If you have a new pet and do not know how they will react, I highly recommend staying home with them. If you leave a dog alone in the house while you’re out celebrating the Fourth, you might just find out how much damage a freaked-out dog can do.

If you know from previous Independence Day celebrations that your pet will experience severe anxiety, talk to your veterinarian about a mild tranquilizer.

Leave your dog at home if you are going to attend a public firework display.

Remember, celebrations with fireworks start well before the Fourth of July, so please be prepared to keep your pets safe.

Sally Salopek is the owner and operator of Attend-A-Pet pet sitting services in northern Door County. She has also worked professionally with animals in health care, pet grooming, training, wildlife rehab and rescue. Send your pet-related questions to her at [email protected]

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