The 4th of July Fireworks Extravaganza!
Eric Fold, DVM
June 17, 2018
It's that time of year, summer is almost officially here and plans are being made for big firework shows and cookouts. We are excited to celebrate our country's freedom and have some extravagant ways to do so. Some of our pets however, are not so excited about the large crowds and scary fireworks. Some of them have a hard time just with thunderstorms alone. As you make your plans for the 4th, think about how your pet reacted last year and get prepared.
Before the show
If you plan on bringing your pet to an event, understand that crowded environments with fireworks and loud noises are not conducive for good pet behavior. The majority of pets will react frightened or show signs of stress during these events. Consider having their identification tag updated with your current address and contact information in the event that they escape. If you haven't had your pet microchipped, bring your pet to our clinic and we will place one that can be updated electronically.
If you are road tripping to your destination, check out our travel safety page. Make sure and have plenty of water and treats for your pet. These events can be very hot and humid down here in the south and can quickly become dangerous for your pet if they become overheated.
Make sure and have a plan to leave early if your pet reacts negatively to the firework event. Making them endure the show if they are reluctant or uncomfortable can lead to severe negative behavior in the future. Just watch and read your pet, if it is too much, head home.
For our large animal friends, make sure the pasture fences are sturdy and complete. Horses especially can become flighty and may attempt to jump a fence or gate to get away from the commotion. Have a break-away collar on your horse with up to date contact information. If possible, make sure metal posts are capped with a protective plastic to avoid injury and mark the top wire with a plastic marker tape to make it easily visible.
- Try to avoid bringing your pet to the firework display if possible
- Have identification up to date
- Have a plan to leave early if needed
- Large animals should be in well fenced pasture and have them easily identifiable
During the show
If you decided to leave your furry friend at home, make sure they are secured in a well fenced in area or in an interior room of the house. Also consider playing some soft music for your pet to muffle the explosions while you aren't there. You can place a recently worn shirt in the crate with them to give them a familiar sent.
If your pet is at the show, make sure to stay by their side. If you leave them unattended, they may become frightened and try to escape. Having a familiar handler with them will help them stay calm and reduce anxiety.
If needed, medications can be prescribed to reduce anxiety and even cause sedation. Some alternatives to prescription medications are available. Zylkene® is a natural supplement derived from casein, a protein in milk. It is a molecule well known to promote the relaxation of newborns after breastfeeding and was designed for both dogs and cats. Cats also often respond well to Feliway, a cat pheromone that has calming effects. These are available in a slow release collar, a spot on sprayer, of even a plug in diffuser. Your pet should be examined before administered medications to ensure they will be safe for your pet.
- Keep the pet in a well secured back yard or interior room
- Play soft calming music
- Consider prescription or over the counter medications to reduce anxiety
After the party
After the party avoid feeding your pet the scraps. Older dogs are especially sensitive when it comes to their diets and high fat foods and bones can lead to pancreatitis or even foreign body obstruction. Some of the foods can be toxic to pets even with very low doses. One of the scariest food items are kabobs, these often have onions which are toxic and the sharp skewers can easily cause perforation of the bowel if ingested.
Make sure to clean up all the fireworks afterward, the curious pets might try to chew or eat them. Often these fireworks have heavy metals or other substances that can be toxic at very low doses.
- Do not feed your pet the scraps
- Clean up all the fireworks
Though bringing your four legged friends to a firework show may sound like a great evening, it can be very stressful and unpleasant for your critters. Consider leaving them at home but make sure they are secure and comfortable.
“July 4th Safety.” American Veterinary Medical Association, 2018, www.avma.org/public/PetCare/Pages/July-4-Safety.aspx.