As we begin to celebrate our great nation this July 4th, let us stop and reflect on how some of the festivities can be stressful or harmful to our pets.
Many animals are scared of the sounds and flashing lights from the beautiful firework display. They may need some extra TLC when those boomers go off.
Grilled burgers and dogs, s’mores and apple pie all smell so good but may not be the best dinner for Fido.
Travel plans may or may not include your pet. If you are away during a time when fireworks will fly, some of the tips below may help your pet while they are alone.
Shelters see an increased number of lost dogs (and cats) in the days following firework displays. Here are a few tips to follow to keep your pets safe and if they bolt for the door, a way to bring them back home.
Always keep your pets’ ID securely fastened to their collar. Even inside, wearing a collar with the proper ID can be beneficial should a pet get out accidently.
Keep them away from the front and back doors to lessen the chance of escape when a neighbor comes to visit.
Consider microchipping your pet. A microchip is not a GPS tracker, it is a chip the size of a grain of rice that, when scanned with a microchip scanner, has a unique number. You can learn more about microchips in our June blog titled, "Let's Talk About Microchips".
PCS will microchip your cat and dog and register their microchip with the National Microchip database. If you would like us to chip your pet, please book a service with us or visit our services page.
Watch What You Eat is Not Just for Those of Us on a Diet
With summer BBQs and Fourth of July celebrations, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center generally sees an increase in calls regarding pets who have eaten fireworks or other toxic backyard items.
Some dogs will eat anything, regardless of how it tastes, cats not so much. If your pet is the type who likes to sample the menu, be wary of these BBQ staples.
BBQ No-Nos for Pets
Fireworks. Yum? Yup! Some dogs will eat them so keep those sparklers out of reach.
Fireworks residue. If you set off fireworks at home, make sure you thoroughly clean up the area before letting Fido out to do his business.
Around the deck: citronella candles, insect coils, coal, ashes and lighter fluids. Crazy, but they can be a tempting snack.
Watch for fallen food like grapes, ribs and other bones, salty chips and pretzels.
Abandoned beer or wine glasses can be a tasty drink which can be hazardous. Check out this link from the American Kennel Club for the deets on alcohol consumption.
Visitors may not know that chocolate desserts are toxic to your pet. Please educate them that chocolate and dogs (and cats) don’t mix.
Never underestimate your pet’s level of curiosity. If something smells good they‘ll eat it, if something is within reach they’ll grab it and if baby’s fingers need a cleaning they’ll lick them.
If you have any reason to suspect your pet has eaten something toxic, please contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center ( https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control ) at their 24 hour hotline at (888) 426-4435.
A cooool shady spot
Remember to have a nice, cool, shady spot and water if your dog is hanging out on the deck with you. It will get hot for them too, and they need a place away from the direct sunlight.
Why Are Some Animals Scared of Fireworks?
The reason some pets are scared of fireworks can be due to several factors.
Fireworks are Loud
What is that noise? Where is it coming from? Am I in danger? Cats and dogs have a more acute sense of hearing than we do. They not only hear a wider range of frequencies they also hear sounds from further away which can make the sound louder. No wonder they are scared.
Fireworks Are Unpredictable
Is it over? Will it happen again? This unpredictability builds anxiety.
Fireworks Can Make Your Pet Feel Trapped
Where can I hide? How do I get away? I’m stuck inside, HELP! As fireworks continue to be set off, your pet may start to feel like they can't get away from them triggering the fight or flight response. This can result in your dog destroying furniture or bolting for the door to jump the fence in an attempt to get away from the loud noises, or perhaps cower under the covers in fear.
How Can You Tell if Your Cat, Dog or Rabbit is Scared of Fireworks
Even pets inside can be affected by the noise and flashing light display especially if you or your neighbors are setting them off.
Here are some signs to alert you that your dog, cat, bunny or small animal may be scared and will need a little extra TLC to help them relax.
Ways to Calm Dogs, Cats, Rabbits and Small Animals During Fireworks
Learning the proper handling techniques which make your pet feel most secure is one way to help them feel safe. Here are other ways for each type of pet.
Ways to Help Calm Your Cat During Fireworks
Provide hiding places in your home, complete with water, food and litterbox.
Bring Fluffy in - Cats can become more stressed if they're outside during fireworks.
Close drapes to minimize the flashing lights and dampen the sound.
Turn on a radio or TV with soothing music.
Check in on their favorite hiding place and talk softly to reassure them.
Be there and talk calmly to them as they take their cues from you.
You could try using a snug fitting t-shirt or anxiety vest.
Ways to Help Calm Your Rabbit or Small Animal During Fireworks
Partly cover outside cages and pens with blankets so the area is soundproofed and hidden, but open a small peephole for them to see out.
Provide bedding for burrowing.
Consider bringing them indoors – they may need time to acclimate, so do this gradually and plan ahead.
Having proper habitats will help keep them occupied with toys, tunnels, etc.
Check out this article from Today’s Veterinary Practice as they go over how to best hold rabbits, hedgehogs, ferrets, chinchillas, guinea pigs, gerbils, hamsters, mice and rats.
Ways to Help Calm Your Dog During Fireworks
Cats and small animals tend to go off on their own when scared, but man’s best friend is a pack animal and may want to be by your side. There are many ways to help your dog. You will need to see which, if any, work for you and your pet. If you cannot help your pup calm down, please talk with your veterinarian.
Stay home with your dog (or hire a pet sitter).
During the day, before fireworks begin - get your pup tired by walking, playing, running.
Make an early dinner.
Walk once more before the fireworks begin.
Get in an early bathroom run.
If he needs to go out during the firework display, take him out on a leash. Do not let him loose in the yard.
Keep your dog indoors, preferably in a basement or interior room.
Close your curtains or shades to muffle the sound and block out firework flashes.
Play calming music or keep the TV on. Even white noise like the air conditioning or a fan can help.
Make a doggie burrito - use a dog sweater or tight fitting t-shirt to simulate a hugging feeling.
Give your dog some space - his crate, favorite bed, or snuggling on the sofa with you.
Create safe hiding places around your home – a crate or small closet with food and water works well.
Try distracting him with games, favorite toys, and treats.
Physical touch can do wonders for any living creature. Give your pup a massage or cuddle.
If your pet is still fearful, discuss it with your veterinarian. They will have other suggestions.
What if you won’t be home during fireworks?
Before You Leave - Prepare Your Home
Leave Fido home. If you are going to a fireworks display, please leave your dog at home where he will be safe and comfortable.
Don’t leave your dog outside. If you cannot bring him inside, cover his dog house with a blanket to dampen the bright lights and loud bangs.
Create a special den-like area in your home where your dog feels safe. A box, crate or small closet can become a calming refuge.
Remove harmful items from your pup’s reach. Because some dogs become destructive when frightened, remove any items in the room which your dog could destroy or which could hurt him chewed.
Darken the rooms. Keep windows and curtains closed to reduce noise and bright flashes.
Make some soothing noise. Turn on the TV or radio at normal volume to distract your dog from the booms.
Hire a pet sitter. If possible, have someone stay with your pet during the majority of the fireworks.
PCS will stay and comfort your pets on holidays, weekends, or for a single day. You will be able to enjoy the celebration knowing your pets are safe and someone reliable and responsible is there to comfort them. Give us a call 703-323-3972 or book a service. Let us give security and safety to your pet when you can’t.
No matter what you are celebrating, knowing your pets are safe and happy will make your celebration more enjoyable for you and your pets.
The information contained on this blog is for informational and entertainment purposes only. It is not guaranteed to be accurate, as it is solely based on the author's experiences. The views expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of PBJ Pet Care Service or Pets Bring Joy animal rescue.