Q: Who doesn’t just LOVE fireworks?!
A: Most pets.
July is National Lost Pet Prevention month, which is very fitting since more pets flood into animal shelters following the 4th of July than at any other time of the year. Often people don’t realize the impact the sound and fury of fireworks can have on dogs, cats and other pets, but anyone who works at an animal shelter can attest to the fact that our furry friends will go to almost any lengths to alleviate their terror and confusion.
Dogs and cats alike will scale tall fences (or burrow under them), chew through leashes, break metal chains or even crash through doors and just head for the hills, running until they’re exhausted or hiding in the smallest space they can wedge themselves into. Pet birds are also affected, and will sometimes break out of their cages or injure themselves trying to do so.
Pets lost in these circumstances can be very difficult to find, as they may travel far from home, or be too scared to respond to your calls in a search. That’s why preventing their escape is key, and we have a few suggestions to offer, along with links to some helpful resources in the event your pet does go missing.
1. Bring all of your pets indoors
Celebrating our Independence Day with a backyard barbecue has become a popular tradition, so if you are planning one we recommended that pets be placed in a room inside the house, with the door securely closed. Make sure they have everything they will need for the duration (water, food, toys, piddle pads or a litter box, and their favorite bed) so you don’t have to go in and out of the room – you may even want to lock the door or tape a “Keep Door Closed” sign on the outside should you have friends over, as visiting kids are especially apt to go looking for that dog they hear barking or your cat scratching to get out.
Another tradition is the 4th of July picnic in the park, which is great fun for everyone except your pets. While going to the park without your best buddy may just feel wrong, everyone will be much safer and happier if you leave him or her at home on this one day. The random firecracker can scare even the calmest dog into a breakaway run.
2. Consider administering a calmative
For pets who have more severe reactions (trembling, constant barking or crying, uncontrollable release of bowels or bladder, etc.) you may want to talk to your vet ahead of time about sedatives made specifically for pets (note: never give human medicines to your pets unless specifically instructed to do so by a veterinarian!) There are a variety of choices here, including most recently a number of natural CBD oil products that can be very effective in helping your pet weather the storm with a minimum of trauma. It’s best to visit your veterinarian well ahead of time for these – you may even want to do a trial run on a day that’s not a national holiday (when most vet offices are closed), in case you have questions about dosages, or your pets’ reaction, etc.
3. Take pictures of your pets
If you don’t already have multiple photos of your beautiful fur babies, do be sure to snap a few pics to have available in case the worst happens and your pet does get lost. Not only will they be needed for Lost Pet flyers, but you’ll want to take them around to your local shelters, too. They will have so many pets coming in over the several days (and sometimes weeks) following the 4th of July that they will appreciate having a photo on hand, and many shelters have volunteers who do nothing but tour the facilities on a regular basis, photos in hand, trying to match up lost pets with their owners. These wonderful people need all the help they can get, and nothing works better than an actual photo. Here is a link that will help you find the shelters in your area: https://www.petfinder.com/animal-shelters-and-rescues/search/
4. Consider microchipping
There are a number of national pet registries offering these services, and your veterinarian can implant the microchip. There is no faster way of locating a lost pet, especially when there is such a large influx of them into your local shelters. Here is a link to more information about microchipping your pets: https://www.petfinder.com/dogs/lost-and-found-dogs/microchip-faqs/
Of course, our favorite option is to take advantage of HDTV and live-stream spectacular fireworks from across the country. Without the audible aspect of fireworks, many pets enjoy the bright lights and trailing embers (especially kitties, as you might imagine.) And what could be more fun than a snuggle on the couch with your cats, dogs, bunnies – basically whichever of your pets might need some reassurance that the sky is not, in fact, falling.