A major part of summer celebrations, such as July Fourth, includes playing with small fireworks and gazing at spectacular firework displays in the evenings. Our furry friends don’t necessarily enjoy this as much as we do so here are some tips to keep them safe throughout the summer celebrations!
Storage and Cleanup
Set yourself up for stress- free, and hazard-free, celebrations by making sure you’re storing any fireworks in your home securely and completely out of reach of pets or children. The risks of not doing so include poisoning, injury (e.g. burns) and even death. The Pet Poison Helpline has more information on why fireworks are dangerous to pets and symptoms to watch out for.
On that note, be sure to thoroughly clean up after any firework play. Don’t leave wrappers lying around or forget to sweep up the poppers up in your driveway. While used fireworks and their wrappers pose no explosive risks, the wrappers are still a suffocation hazard and the firework residue and gun powder could still poison your pets if ingested!
Fear and Its Consequences
Beyond basic safety, it’s important to keep your pet out of panic mode and as comfortable as possible. Why is this important? Well, the sheer panic that fireworks can evoke in some dogs is more than just uncomfortable for them. It can cause some pets to experience diarrhea or bring out destructive behaviors, such as chewing on their own paws or items around the house when in distress.
It’s fairly easy to keep your pet calm when you’re using small fireworks such as sparklers or poppers. Simply ensure that your pet is safe and inside your home while firework play is taking place outside. If you’re using fireworks specially made for indoor use, be especially mindful that children don’t find the opportunity to test your pet’s reaction to any of them, or worse, repeatedly seek that reaction.
When larger firework displays are taking place, keeping calm might be more complicated. Your pet might tremble, cower or give vocal indications of their fear. If you know a firework event will be taking place, plan to have someone in your home with your pet so that they won’t be alone to face their fear. Alternately, consider boarding your pet after confirming that the event won’t be near the facility. If a firework display begins and you know your pet becomes uneasy with loud noises and you can’t get home, see if a family member, friend or trusted pet sitter can get to your home to keep your pet calm.
Tips, Tricks & Products
Among the options available to aid your pet are anti-anxiety treats, supplements, soothing toys and even special garments. You might specifically consider using an anti-anxiety vest for cats and dogs, as the compression from the vests soothes both species of pets effectively. If you do get one of these vests in preparation for July Fourth, make sure to have your pet wear it on several occasions beforehand to get used to it. Remember that all of the suggestions above should first be implemented while your pet is under supervision to ensure minimum discomfort.
Some pet parents may be tempted to give pets medication to keep them comfortable. While this is an option, it is possible to get a prescription to reduce anxiety but only if it is deemed appropriate for your pet by your veterinarian.
Finally, don’t simply try to remove the negativity from your pet’s firework experience but try to introduce some positivity as well. You might distract your pet from their fear by engaging in gentle play or cuddle them during firework play. You could also give your pet a treat for good behavior and calm moments throughout the firework display.
To your pets and family from us, have a safe summer and a happy Fourth of July!