If your pet had to pick a favorite holiday, it probably wouldn’t be the 4th of July! Fireworks and pets don’t mix. The following is taken from Debbie Elert is the founder of Lost Dogs Florida on how to minimize the stress that can occur this time of year.
Fireworks and thunderstorms can be traumatic for pets, causing many to bolt in fear and become lost. There is a 30-percent increase in the number of pets reported lost in the week surrounding the Fourth of July. The following tips will help keep your dog (or cat) safe during the summer months.
Make sure your pet is licensed. This is your pet’s ticket home should it get loose. Call your local humane society to find out where to get your pet licensed.
If you don’t have clear, current photos of your pet, take them today. This could be the key to finding him quickly. Take photos from all angles to include his entire body, face and any unusual features.
Have your pet microchipped. This tiny device is the size of a grain of rice, and when implanted under the skin, can be scanned by a shelter or vet clinic to provide your contact information. Keep your information up-to-date, since the chip is only as effective as the information you provide.
Both dogs and cats (even indoor-only cats) should have a properly-fitting collar with a legible tag with your current phone number on it. This will greatly increases the likelihood your pet will be returned to you. The person who finds him will immediately be able to contact you.
Check your fence for loose boards or openings. Can your dog get over or under? Is your gate secure? Even if your dog is normally happy in the yard he might try to escape if panicked. If your pet has to go outside during fireworks, put them on a leash — even if your yard is fenced.
Exercise your dog during the day so he’s tired when the fireworks start. A tired dog is a better behaved dog.
Keep your pets in the house during fireworks. Secure them in a small interior room with a radio or TV playing to drown out noise. Windows, shades, and doors should be closed, not only to keep the noise out, but to keep your pet in. Place a blanket over their kennel to block out any flashing lights and loud noises. Neighbors may light fireworks during the day or other nights of the week also, so be prepared.
Use baby gates to secure doorways if you have friends or family over. Talk to your guests and small children about the importance of keeping doors and gates closed at all times.
Talk to your veterinarian about medication to help your pet feel more comfortable during storms and fireworks.
Leave your dog at home when attending crowded events such as parades and fireworks shows. He doesn’t enjoy loud, crowded events and will be happier at home where he is safe.
Accidents happen even in the most careful homes. If your pet does escape, don’t panic. Immediately place food, water and an article of clothing you have worn next to your body in the area he was last seen. The familiar scent will often lure him back home. Pets who are lost during stressful situations often don’t go very far unless they’re chased. They may hide for several hours or days until things quiet down and they feel safe before trying to return to the area they went missing.
- Do not call, chase or whistle to your dog or let others do so, which may cause him to run farther from home or even into traffic! When it becomes quiet and things calm down, he may come home on his own.
- Do not let people congregate in your yard or “help you search.” Any commotion will scare him more.
- Put your friends and family to work delivering fliers door-to-door in your neighborhood.
- Notify your local shelter immediately if you have lost or found a pet!
M. H. Archer, DVM