Tips on keeping your pet safe during Fourth of July festivities

Tips on keeping your pet safe during Fourth of July festivities
Tips from Richmond SPCA about keeping pets safe during Fourth of July (Source: Richmond SPCA)
Tips from Richmond SPCA about keeping pets safe during Fourth of July (Source: Richmond SPCA)

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - While you may enjoy the fireworks this holiday season, your four-legged friends don't.

Each year, shelters across the country see a surge of animals coming into their facilities on the days surrounding the Fourth of July.

"The 4th of July is a big holiday where we see an increased population in animal shelters because pets become so frightened by the fireworks and the noise they make," Executive Director of Heritage Humane Society Kimberly Laska said.

"[Keeping your pet in] a curtained room that's a little bit quieter, has some music or a TV on, are all good approaches for helping your dog get through the fireworks display," said Tabitha Treloar, Director of Communications at the Richmond SPCA.

Experts say what's not a good idea, is bringing your pets with you to the fireworks show.

"Most of them aren't enjoying it," said Joyce Sobey, a dog trainer. "They don't see the colors like you do, and they don't understand what's happening."

Sobey said she typically stays at home with her dogs in order to keep them calm.

"I'll use white noise, fans, turn the TV up louder, and I'll close the blinds," she added.

"The loud noise as well as the bright lights can be really startling for pets and can cause anxiety," Treloar said. "During that anxiety pets often run away from home... It may be best to make that sacrifice and give up the fireworks display and choose to watch on TV."

Treloar also suggests trying Thunder shirts.

"The theory is it reduces anxiety by that hugging swaddling feeling," she said.

However, the shirts may be ineffective without the proper training.

"There is an acclimation period," she said. "Thunder shirts typically aren't going to be effective if you simply just put the shirt on the dog, or cat, right before the triggering activity is going to happen. It actually becomes a cue to the dog that something stressful is going to happen."

Knowing your pet's behavior is crucial to figuring out how they'll respond in certain situations, like firework shows.

"If you know that your dog is a little noise sensitive, then those are the ones you keep away and protect," Sobey said.

Not all pets will be scared of fireworks, Sobey added. It all depends on how they acclimate in certain situations.

"Sports dogs who are used to gun shots going off and stuff like that, they'd probably be fine," Sobey said.

As for cats, Treloar said they normally take care of themselves.

"Most of the time cats will self-comfort," she said. "They're going to find a place under a bed and hide."

The SPCA also encourages you to make sure your pet's Microchip and licenses are up to date with the proper information, and legible.

"Your information can become blurred and obscured from rubbing together," Treloar said.

Here are some tips on keeping your pet safe during the festivities:
  • style="margin-top:0in;margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:3.75pt;background:white;">Keep your pets INDOORS during fireworks, and make sure all doors/windows are shut and locked.
  • style="margin-top:0in;margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:3.75pt;background:white;">Keep your pet distracted with an interactive toy, like a KONG toy filled with peanut butter (and frozen overnight).
  • style="margin-top:0in;margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:3.75pt;background:white;">If hosting a 4th of July party, make sure pets are in a secure room so they can't slip out of the doors.
  • style="margin-top:0in;margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:3.75pt;background:white;">Make sure you don’t have firework, sparklers etc near your pets so they don’t ingest it.
  • style="margin-top:0in;margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:3.75pt;background:white;">Turn on the TV or relaxing music to help distract your pets from the loud blasts outside.
  • style="margin-top:0in;margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:3.75pt;background:white;">Make sure your pet's Microchip and Collar ID's are up to date. This is the fastest way to reconnect you and your pet if you are separated.
  • style="margin-top:0in;margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:3.75pt;background:white;">Be aware of your surroundings when walking your pets following the holiday to avoid firework debris leftover.

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