July 4th is a day for celebration for all Americans. This day is filled with barbeques, picnics, parades, loud music, laughing, and most of all, fireworks. As with every family/friendly gathering, your pet will want to take part! It is important to keep in mind that the 4th of July can present dangerous and stressful situations for your pet.
The Moore family of Maitland, Florida was visiting friends for only a few hours when they came home to an empty house. Their two year old German Shepherd was gone. The Moores believe that their dog, who wasn’t normally scared of thunder or other loud noises, panicked from the cumulative effects of the fireworks, the excited voices outside, and being left alone inside the house. The dog had frantically broken through the patio door and dug a hole under the fence to search for her family.
The Moore’s story isn’t unique. Dogs and cats often become frightened and frantic by the noise and commotion of Independence Day. According to The Humane Society of America, animal shelters across the country are accustomed to seeing “July 4th” pets—dogs and cats who run off during fireworks celebrations and are rescued by animal control officers or good samaritans who take them to the safety of a local shelter. It happens more than any other time of the year!
Fortunately with a little planning and forethought, you can have a memorable Independence Day knowing your pet is safe and sound. Here is a list of precautions to take to insure your pet is protected:
Get some exercise. Before the merriment starts, take your dog (or cat) for a nice long walk and/or play session. Exercise may be helpful in getting your pet to relax during the party.
Resist the urge to take your pet to fireworks displays. This may sound like fun, but the loud noises and bright lights may aggravate even the most stable of pets.
Do not leave your pet in the car. With only hot air to breathe inside a car, your pet can suffer serious health effects—even death—in a few short minutes. Also, your pet will likely pant more when nervous. Partially opened windows do not provide sufficient air, and they also provide an opportunity for your pet to be stolen.
Never leave pets outside unattended, even in a fenced yard or on a chain. In their fear, pets who normally wouldn’t leave the yard may escape and become lost, or become entangled in their chain, risking injury or death. Make sure that your fences are not in need of any repair and you do not see signs of holes under them.
If you know that your pet is seriously stressed by loud noises like thunder, consult with your veterinarian before the holiday for ways to help alleviate the fear and anxiety they will experience during fireworks displays.
Keep your pets indoors at home in a sheltered, quiet area. Some animals can become destructive when frightened, so be sure that you’ve removed any items that your pet could destroy or that would be harmful to your pet if chewed. Leave a television or radio playing at normal volume to keep them company while you’re attending Fourth of July picnics, parades, and other celebrations.
Watch the doors. If you have guests over, advise them to be careful when opening doors to prevent your pet from slipping out unnoticed.
Watch out for signs of distress like change in behavior, lack of interaction, excessive grooming, labored panting, shaking, drooling, crying, barking, spraying, scratching, nausea, aggression or loss of bladder control or appetite.
Consider boarding your pet for the night if you will be out late.
Make sure your pets are microchipped or wearing identification tags so if they do escape, they can be easily identified. Remember to contact your local animal control facility quickly and inquire about your pet with a detailed description. Keep a photo of your pet as it will be helpful for officials and neighbors that may assist in finding your cat or dog.
If you plan to go away for the holiday weekend, read our information on traveling with pets.
A bit of common sense and consideration can go a long way in ensuring a safe and happy holiday for both you and your pet.