Keeping Your Pets Safe this 4th of July
As I am blogging this and researching pet safety, I have already shared 3 lost/found puppy photos on Facebook and it is hours from nightfall. I personally seem to have chaos during this time of year. The heat seems to make our Boxer and Mastiff very irritable, along with the nerves from explosions days before the holiday. 3 years in a row during this very week our dogs have become aggressive towards one another, when they never showed any signs of aggression before. As a precaution we keep them separated now because of this.
Please leave pets at home when you head out to your celebrations, and never use fireworks around pets. Exposure to lit fireworks can potentially result in severe burns or trauma to curious pets, and even unused fireworks can be hazardous. Many types of fireworks contain potentially toxic substances such as potassium nitrate, copper, chlorates, arsenic and other heavy metals. Every year on the 4th of July animal shelters around the country see a huge upsurge of lost pets. There are more lost dogs on the 4th of July than any other time of the year.
Dogs have very sensitive hearing and it has been estimated to be 10 times greater than our hearing. Loud explosions, bright flashing lights, screeching Roman candles, sirens, gunshots, thunderstorms and sparklers can easily frighten a dog and lead to his wanting to flee or escape.
Fear of loud noises in dogs can develop after one frightening event or can develop slowly over time and then appear without warning. Dogs that are afraid of loud noises and develop phobias have never learned to tolerate the fear of the provoking stimuli and it usually gets worse over time with each subsequent event.
So even if your dog has never shown any fear of fireworks you should still take precautions on this 4th of July and days leading up to it.
Symptoms of Pet Noise Phobia
There are a number of factors that determine a pet’s reaction to certain noises, such as their age, socialization and experience. Depending on the type of animal you have and the severity of their fear, signs of pet noise phobia may include:
- Trembling or shaking
- Seeking out the owner
- Urinating or defecating
- Barking or howling
Pet owners should be aware that any change in their pet’s behavior should be followed up with a visit to the veterinarian to rule out any potential medical condition.
For some pet owners, it may be natural to nurture their pets by physically comforting them when they become scared. Unfortunately, this can reinforce the alarm and fear the animal is experiencing by giving the animal the positive reward of affection.
Do not take your dog to any 4th of July events. Leave your dog at home in a crate or sheltered room. I highly recommend a crate. Dogs have been known to break through windows and doors when they are frightened. Even still our neighbors German Shepard broke out of her crate, cutting herself and bled everywhere. Only you know your pets.
Put your dog’s crate in a quite room with shades drawn. You can leave the radio or TV on low to drown out potential fireworks sounds from the outside. The TV won’t help if your pup is deaf, like our Chloe. Here are some tips for deaf dogs.
Never leave your dog unattended in the backyard, they can scale fences, dig holes or knock open gates to escape. Our boxer is quite the Houdini.
Make sure your dog has a collar and current identification tags. You should also have your dog microchiped.
Exercise your dog before the fireworks start.
Make sure your dog has done it’s business before putting him up for the evening. If you are staying with your dog and she starts showing signs of anxiety such as pacing, whining, drooling and hiding you can try the following:
Play a game of fetch or tug with your dog.
Massage and rub your dog.
Try an anxiety wrap, we use a Thundershirt on our deaf boxer Chloe.
If you know your dog will be highly anxious before the 4th talk to your vet about appropriate anti-anxiety drugs that might help.
If your dog has a difficult time with fireworks on the 4th of July you may want to consider working your dog through it so you will be better prepared for the next time it happens. There are many articles on the Internet on how to desensitize your dog to noise, thunder, and fireworks. Use the search phrase “noise desensitization therapy for dogs” and you will get a lot of useful information.
Also be aware of heat stroke and dehydration in your pets as our daily temperatures are well above the 100’s.