Protect pets from trauma caused by fireworks

By Trish Hernandez
Posted 6/28/17

While fireworks offer a dazzling display for people, they can be quite disturbing to our canine best friends. Many dogs are afraid of fireworks, and some even exhibit an extreme, phobic response. The following is some good information that will keep …

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Protect pets from trauma caused by fireworks

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While fireworks offer a dazzling display for people, they can be quite disturbing to our canine best friends. Many dogs are afraid of fireworks, and some even exhibit an extreme, phobic response. The following is some good information that will keep your dog safe and you a responsible and kind owner during our Fourth of July celebrations.

If possible, do not leave your dog home alone. Dogs with phobic reactions to fireworks can easily panic and injure themselves in the process. Many panicked dogs find ways to escape from their yards and can be further injured or killed while running loose. July 5 is one of the busiest days of the year for local shelters, as people go looking for lost pets. Your beloved pet can also be run over and become victim to people who will harm and perhaps even cause death. Keep in mind some crazy-acting people are running around basically "armed" with fireworks.

Also, many neighborhoods celebrate early and continue firework festivities a few days after the 4th, so be prepared. Be sure your dog is wearing a properly fitting collar with up-to-date contact information, just in case the unthinkable happens and he gets loose.

The safest place for your pet is safely inside your home, not in a crowded, unfamiliar park or a noisy backyard. The resulting panic due to fireworks or other loud noises may make them run away or jump a fence in a terrified attempt to find safety. If you are unable to stay home with your dog on July 4, keep him confined in an escape-proof area such as his crate or baby-gated in a laundry room or other small, dog-proofed area. if a crate or closet creates more anxiety or if your pet isn't acclimated to the crate it should not be used; a crate is more effective if your dog has grown up using one since he or she was young.

Close up the windows and turn up the TV or radio to help insulate your home from firework noise. Leave your dog something wonderful to do like digging out dinner from a tightly stuffed KONG toy. Do not leave your dog in an area that he can potentially be harmed due to his terror. Look carefully around the area if you are locking him in a room. Some dogs like to get in the back of closets, so leave a closet door open.

If you're staying home with your dog or if he will be accompanying you to a family BBQ or outing, arm yourself with a pocket full of tasty treats and keep them busy working and playing for treats as the fireworks blast in the distance.

Do not lock your dog in a car. Your car could be in shreds when you return with a cowering dog inside.

Obviously, you should never take your dog to a fireworks display. Even taking the dog to a private social event for the Fourth can be a bad decision. The calmest of dogs can react dramatically different when the fireworks are heard up close and not from a distance. Over-exposure to the sights, sounds and smells of fireworks can, in some dogs, create a phobic response. Remember fireworks smell like fire. You may know the difference but your dog does not.

For multiple dog families, if one dog already exhibits a fearful or phobic response to the sound of fireworks, be sure to separate the dogs so that non-fearful dog does not "catch" the fear. In dogs, fear and aggression can be contagious. This is especially important for young dogs who frequently look to the older dogs in the household for information.

Proper identification may be the only way to retrieve your pet should he or she manage to break loose and become lost. Consider fitting your pet with a microchip, ID tag or other popular method of identification. It is also a good idea to have a recent picture of your pet in case you have to put up "lost pet" signs.

Never use fireworks around pets. While lit fireworks can pose a danger to curious pets and potentially result in severe burns and/or trauma to the face and paws, unused fireworks can be hazardous too. Some fireworks contain potentially toxic substances such as arsenic, potassium nitrate, and other heavy metals. Keep the contact information for your veterinarian or the nearest animal hospital handy just in case your dog or cat has a medical emergency.

Contact taosbark@gmail.com or (575) 613-3448.

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