Pets and Fireworks
Every Independence Day, shelter workers brace themselves for their busiest intake day of the year: July 5th. Estimates for the increase in lost pet pickups consistently run as high as 30 - 60%, with a shelter in Massachusetts recently reporting an 80% uptick. Additionally, fewer than 13% of lost dogs and 2% of lost cats are ever reunited with the families who lost them. Simply put, fireworks are so terrifying for pets, that many will bolt from the house in a blind panic to escape what they perceive as an artillery barrage. A pet’s hearing is far more sensitive than ours and simply put, fireworks are explosions. It is easy to understand why our pets are afraid of them.
Before fireworks start, place cats in a separate room with lots of hiding places. Leave closet doors open, allow access to areas under beds and behind furniture, and make it clear to guests that this room is off-limits. Consider using a crate or boarding anxious dogs if you cannot confine them to a separate part of the house. Turn on the television or some classical music to drown out the noise, and provide them with interesting activities to occupy their minds. For cats, try food puzzles or an interactive toy. Dogs are often content with a Kong toy that has been stuffed with canned food and placed in the freezer. These “popsicles” keep our dog distracted for hours. Do not bring dogs to fireworks displays, as they are likely to panic and run from their handlers. If your pet has a history of fireworks anxiety, consider asking your vet for some anti-anxiety medications. It can take time to find the most effective dose, so call your veterinarian while there is still time to help your pet.
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