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Podcast: Fireworks Anxiety and 4th of July Pet Safety

More pets go missing around the 4th of July than at any other time of year and fireworks are to blame. Animal control offices across the U-S report a 30-60% increase in lost pets between July 4 and July 6. Many shelters say July 5 has become one of their busiest days.

Dr. Julia Georgesen of Blum Animal Hospital in Chicago says there’s only one way to keep your pet safe at home. “Keep them away from all the fireworks,” she says. “Pets get really scared with fireworks and it may be something you don’t want to celebrate outside with your dog.”

According to Georgesen, it’s better to keep your pets safe inside where they can’t get burned, experience hearing loss or suffer eye damage from fireworks going off outside.

“It’s really better to plan ahead if you know your pet gets extremely anxious from fireworks. You should discuss it with your veterinarian and a lot of times they can sedate your pet or give them anxiety medication to help them cope.”

Teach your dog calm behavior year-round in your home, specifically how to ‘settle,’ says Georgesen. Get them to a point where they can become comfortable and relaxed and know that their house is a safe place.

Georgesen says it’s not just the noise that threatens your pet’s safety on the 4-th of July. “Don’t let your pet eat the leftover fragments from fireworks that litter sidewalks and yards. Those can be toxic and make dogs really sick.”

Never leave alcoholic drinks unattended where pets can reach them. Alcoholic beverages can potentially poison pets. Don’t apply sunscreen or insect repellent to your pet unless it’s specifically for use on animals. Keep matches and lighter fluid out of your pets’ reach. Certain types of matches contain chlorates, which are toxic to pets. Don’t put glow jewelry on your pets or allow them to play with items like glow sticks. The luminescent substance contained in these products is not highly toxic but excessive drooling and gastrointestinal irritation could still result.

4th of July Pet Safety:

  • Stay inside: Try to keep your pet indoors at all times during holiday celebrations. Ideally, someone stays home with your pet. Also keep your dog leashed when going out for walks.
  • Make them feel safe: Comfort your pets with petting, hugging, talking to them in a soothing voice, providing a treat and staying nearby if possible. Make sure they can access their crate or “safe place.” Also ask your veterinarian or local pet retailer about natural calming products, anxiety wraps and other products that can help.
  • Avoid the noise. Try to drown out the fireworks sounds as much as possible by closing windows, playing music or turning on the TV.
  • Act normal! Your pet takes cues from your and your family’s actions. It will help if you go about your normal routine as much as possible, talking and playing with your pet as usual.
  • Protect your pet before the fireworks begin. Make sure they’re wearing a collar with identification tags. Also, consider micro-chipping your pet for sure fire identification even if they lose their collar.

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