While Independence Day fireworks come with lots of bright colors and loud noises that wow humans, they also can create an unsafe environment for pets.
“Fourth of July is the one holiday of the year, because of the fireworks issues, that we get the largest number of stray dogs and cats,” said Doug Brightwell, the director of Pinellas County Animal Services. “After the Fourth, dogs and cats that wouldn’t normally run off or escape, bolt and try to get away from the loud noises.”
Brightwell recommends that people don’t take their dogs to public firework celebrations.
“You’ve got the loud noises and the large crowds, so it’s a very scary place for a lot of dogs, and so you increase the likelihood of them getting away or possibly biting someone out of fear,” said Brightwell.
He added that dogs should be kept in a kennel or a small room indoors with the door shut. He said turning the television on or playing background music can help distract the animals and help prevent them from escaping. For pets with high levels of anxiety, Brightwell advises contacting a veterinarian for sedative medication.
“Especially a lot of dogs that are kept outdoors, or in a screen room, they will get through a screen, and out of a patio, and over a fence and be gone because of the fear of the noise,” said Brightwell. “We ask people to take extra, extra effort in keeping their pets secure for the holiday.”
While pets are around parties, all food and drink should be kept away from them. Alcoholic beverages should always be attended to so pets don’t accidentally drink them. Brightwell advises against feeding pets any food from social gatherings because barbeque sauces and spices can harm their digestion.
“If your dogs are not accustomed to that, it’s going to cause them some upset stomach, some gastric distress,” said Brightwell.
As for dogs socializing with other dogs, Brightwell said it is important for the dogs to be slowly introduced to each other first. He cautions that even dogs that are already familiar with each other may still react to the noises from fireworks.
“If the fireworks start going off and that fear level rises, you might see some behaviors that you do not normally see when they’re playing together,” said Brightwell.
Pet owners should make sure their animals have proper identification tags on. In case a pet escapes, people should contact their county’s animal services.
“Hopefully everyone has their pets microchipped and have those microchips registered,” said Brightwell. “So that way, if they do come into our shelter, if they’ve lost their tag or if they’ve lost their collar, if they’ve got that microchip, we can get a hold of the owner and get them home a lot quicker.”
And care should be taken after the Fourth as well.
“Always check your yard after the holiday to clean up any fireworks debris before you let your pet out,” said Brightwell. “Use caution and use common sense during this time of the year.”