July 4th Safety for Pets

4th of July celebrations might be fun for people, but they’re downright scary for many animals, especially cats, dogs and horses.  The sights, sounds and commotion can confuse animals and make them nervous, which can cause them to run away or place themselves in harmful situations.

Tips for keeping them safe

  • Don’t take pets to fireworks displays.
  • Keep pets indoors and away from crowds so they feel more protected.  Noise causes some dogs to try digging out of yards, so keep them.
  • Crates are great for those trained and comfortable with them.
  • A fan or other "white noise" can help mask fireworks sounds.
  • Consider boarding in a safe place that’s away from the holiday action.  If you’ll be traveling over the 4th, boarding may be a much better option than leaving your pet at home.
  • Early behavior training can help desensitize animals to holiday commotion.  It’s important to teach puppies (ideally) or dogs how to handle loud noises through positive conditioning.  Don’t punish your friend for fearing thunderstorms or fireworks.
  • Your veterinarian may prescribe a sedative if your pet is fearful of fireworks.  Remember:  consult your veterinarian before administering any medications.
  • Make sure your sweetpea is wearing an ID collar and is microchipped.
  • Keep pets away from all festive fare, including fireworks, matches, lighter fluid, and food and drinks.
  • Keep horses indoors and away from the sound of fireworks.

If your pet does become lost

  • Check the neighborhood.  Pets have been known to be found close by the place of escape even several days later.
  • Post signs with your pet's photo and your cell number and email.  Best to use your first name only and not your home phone. Cell numbers are not as easily traced online to home addresses.
  • If your pet is microchipped (highly recommended), contact your microchip registration company. Once notified, they may activate a lost pet recovery network and/or place your lost pet on a "hot sheet" or social media networks.
  • Contact your veterinarian.  If your pet is wearing a collar with rabies tag (also recommended), the number can be traced to your vet and then back to you if the pet is found or taken to a shelter.
  • Contact local animal control, shelters and humane organizations.  If possible, visit daily to see if your pet has come in.  July 5th is one of the busiest days of the year for shelters.
  • Place a lost pet ad in your local newspaper and/or Facebook or Craigslist.
  • Check the paper and online sources daily for "found pet" ads as well as “pet for sale” ads.  People attempting to sell found or stolen pets on sites like Craigslist is on the rise.

If you have any concerns or questions about helping your animal stay calm and safe during the holiday, talk to your veterinarian.

©2014 Oregon Veterinary Medical Association
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