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Fireworks: Be mindful of pets

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How to prepare your pet for a less stressful July 4th celebration.

Fireworks may be a lot of fun for people, but they can be terrifying for animals. 

Very few animals are used to the sound of fireworks. Animals in general have more sensitive hearing compared to humans and any loud noise can trigger a panic attack, causing them to flee, run into things, go through fences, salivate, vocalize and — in some cases — even cause harm to people during a moment of stress. 

It is very important that we minimize this experience for them by either not having fireworks on our property in the first place (ideal) or preparing them for the event. Preparation is key, especially since neighbors and others surrounding you may be setting fireworks off.

Here are a few tips to provide a less stressful Fourth of July for your pets and farm animals.

Preparation Tips

  • Make sure your pet gets a lot of exercise the day before and the morning of the event.
  • Pheromones may help them relax. There is a canine, feline and equine pheromone used in veterinary medicine. You can find it at your local pet store as a plug in and collar form for dogs, plug in for cats and intranasal gel for horses.
  • Make sure your pet has a safe enclosed place to be, such as a crate or closet, that is protected from bright lights and where sounds can be muffled.
  • If you will be gone during the fireworks, get a pet sitter to stay with your pet at home just in case it panics and needs immediate help.
  • If your pet has reacted to fireworks in the past in a negative manner, it is likely that this year it will be even worse. Talk to your veterinarian about use of medicinal intervention. Some drugs can be safely prescribed. Refrain from using any over-the-counter supplements or drugs, as most do not have proven efficacy and can be detrimental to your pet’s health.
  • Make sure your pets have ID tags or are microchipped (preferably both) in case they run away.

The day of the fireworks event:

  • Keep your pets inside during fireworks, preferably with human companionship. Bringing your dog to a fireworks display is a bad idea. This kind of training (called flooding) is very traumatic for those who already are fearful and can even make fear worse.
  • Make sure livestock are in a safe area that is fenced and covered.
  • Keep your pets entertained by offering them some environmental stimuli, such as food toys (frozen food toys with their favorite food inside), especially if they will be crated.
  • If your pet will be given medication, do not leave your pet unattended.
  • After the event, if there was a party in your house, make sure your pet does not have access to the leftover food and beverages from the party.
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