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July 05th, 2020

cat dog fireworksCourtesy photoELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times


The 4th of July holiday is typically one of fun, games, family and fireworks. 

For many families, however, the holiday also means making sure the family pet(s) are comfortable and safe during all the noise and festivities. 

“Fireworks, picnics and other Fourth of July traditions can be great fun for people, but all of the festivities can be frightening and even dangerous for animals,” the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) noted. “Noisy fireworks and other celebrations can startle animals and cause them to run away; holiday foods can be unhealthy; summer heat and travel can be dangerous; and potentially dangerous debris can end up lying on the ground where pets can eat or play with it. “Whether or not you’re planning your own Independence Day celebration, it’s important to take precautions to keep your pets safe both during and after Fourth of July festivities.” 

According to the AVMA, there are some things pet owners can do before the big day to prepare Fido and Fluffy. 

“Make sure your pets – cats and dogs alike – have identification tags with up-to-date information. If you have horses, you might consider marking a safety (breakaway) halter with your contact information and leaving it on your horse during this stressful time,” the AVMA noted. “If your pets aren’t already microchipped, talk with your veterinarian about microchipping. This simple procedure can greatly improve your chances of getting your pets back if they become lost. And if your pets are microchipped, make sure your contact information in the microchip registry is up to date. It’s also a good idea to take a current photo of all of your cats, dogs and horses just in case. Also, if your pet has historically been anxious on this holiday, or if you have reason to expect potentially harmful reactions, consider behavioral therapy to desensitize your pet and reduce the risk of problems. Some pets may need medication. Consult your veterinarian or a veterinary behaviorist. Make sure the environment is safe and secure. If your neighbors set off fireworks at an unexpected time, is your yard secure enough to keep your pet contained? Are pasture fences secure enough to keep horses or other livestock confined? Evaluate your options, and choose the safest area for your animals; and make improvements if needed to make the area more secure.”

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) also shared some advice for pet owners on how to keep pets during the festivities. 

“While it may seem like a great idea to reward your pet with scraps from the grill and bring him along to watch fireworks, in reality some festive foods and activities can be potentially hazardous to him,” the  ASPCA noted. “Never leave alcoholic drinks unattended where pets can reach them. Alcoholic beverages have the potential to poison pets. If ingested, the animal could become very intoxicated and weak, severely depressed or could go into a coma. Death from respiratory failure is also a possibility in severe cases. Also, always keep matches and lighter fluid out of your pets’ reach. Certain types of matches contain chlorates, which could potentially damage blood cells and result in difficulty breathing—or even kidney disease in severe cases. Lighter fluid can be irritating to skin, and if ingested can produce gastrointestinal irritation and central nervous system depression. If lighter fluid is inhaled, aspiration pneumonia and breathing problems could develop. Be sure to also keep citronella candles, insect coils and tiki torch oil products out of reach. Ingestion can produce stomach irritation and possibly even central nervous system depression. If inhaled, the oils could cause aspiration pneumonia in pets. Also remember that too much sun and heat and humidity can be dangerous to pets. Keep them inside when it’s extremely hot/humid; make sure they have access to shady spots and plenty of water when outdoors; don’t leave them outside for extended periods in hot weather; and know the signs that a pet may be overheating.”

Pets can get especially anxious during the actual fireworks displays, and the AVMA and ASPCA emphasized pet owners should keep their furry friends away from that part of the festivities. 

“Leave your pets at home when you go to parties, fireworks displays, parades and other gatherings. Loud fireworks, unfamiliar places and crowds can all be very frightening to pets, and there’s great risk of pets becoming spooked and running away,” the AVMA noted. “Keep your pets inside if you or your neighbors are setting off fireworks and consider putting your pets in a safe, escape-proof room or crate during parties and fireworks, and be sure to  keep horses and livestock in safely fenced areas and as far from the excitement and noise as possible. If you’re hosting guests, ask them to help keep an eye on your pets to make sure they don’t escape. Placing notes on exit doors and gates can help both you and your guests remain vigilant. If you’re travelling out of town for the holiday, consider leaving your pets at home with a pet sitter or boarding them in a kennel. If you need to bring them with you, be sure you know how to keep them safe.”

“Never use fireworks around pets,” the ASPCA noted. “While exposure to lit fireworks can potentially result in severe burns and/or trauma to the face and paws of curious pets, even unused fireworks can pose a danger. Many types contain potentially toxic substances, including potassium nitrate, arsenic and other heavy metals. Loud, crowded fireworks displays are no fun for pets, who can become frightened or disoriented by the sound, so please resist the urge to take them to Independence Day festivities, and opt instead to keep them safe from the noise in a quiet, sheltered and escape-proof area at home.”

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