Help your pets avoid pyrotechnic panic this Independence Day


ST. GEORGE — While most people enjoy the thunderous ballistic bliss of fireworks that accompanies Independence Day celebrations, not everyone in your household – namely your pets – are as enthusiastic about it, as the booms can send them into fits of pyrotechnic panic.

Cat and dog hanging out | Photo from Pixabay, St. George News

The day following the Fourth of July is among the busiest for animal shelters nationwide due to stray animals being picked by animal control officers or being found and taken in by concerned citizens.

The St. George Animal Shelter has previously reported that there is an increase of around 30 to 60 percent in lost pets locally between July 4-6.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals reports that its Animal Poison Control Center also receives an increase in calls around Independence Day due to pets having issues with loud noises from fireworks or even having eaten fireworks.

The loud booms can scare both cats and dogs, though the reaction from dogs tends to be more pronounced.

Loud bangs and booms will commonly send a cat into hiding, while a dog will do its best to escape the noises altogether. In other words, Fido will start running and keep running.

French bulldog, location and date unspecified | Photo from Pixabay, St. George News

These pets can get lost and end up in the custody of an area animal shelter. Some dogs may not be so lucky due to being injured or killed in traffic or attacked by predators depending on where they may end up.

Pet owners are recommended to have identification tags on their pets, as well as getting them microchipped so they can be located more easily if they end up in another city’s animal shelter.

Not taking pets to events involving fireworks is also advised.

The following are tips from the ASPCA website for pet owners to help keep their pets safe and panic-free while the fireworks are underway:

  • Something as simple as turning on some soft music and moving your pet into an interior room with no windows can be helpful.
  • An anxiety vest may work in some cases. If you don’t have one, try a snug-fitting T-shirt.
  • While noise phobias are not as common in cats, they can and do happen. Fortunately, cats tend to hide when frightened. Checking in on your cats, having some quiet music on and keeping them indoors during the height of the fireworks is always a good idea.

If you and your veterinarian decide that anti-anxiety mediation is your pet’s best bet, there are a few things to remember. First and foremost, give a practice dose of the medication before the big night to see how your pet responds to the medication. Second, never share the medication with another pet or give more than the recommended amount. If you do, you may end up spending the holiday at your local veterinary emergency clinic.

Cat hiding | Photo from Pixabay, St. George News

When it comes to pets that like to taste new and unusual things, never underestimate your pet’s level of curiosity. While cats are typically a little smarter, some dogs will eat anything, regardless of how it tastes – including fireworks, which contain several types of chemicals and heavy metals. If you set off fireworks at home, make sure you thoroughly clean up the area before letting your pets have access again.

Additional tips:

  • Keep pets away from lit fireworks at all times, including in your own yard or street, as some will chase after the bright moving objects and are at risk to be burned or blinded in the process.
  • If your pet does go missing over the holiday, check immediately and often with local animal shelters. Go to the shelter in person to identify your pet, rather than calling or emailing, as staff may not be able to respond in a timely enough fashion.

Under Utah law, fireworks can be set off two days before and one day after the 4th of July and Pioneer Day.

Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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