July is Lost Pet Prevention Month

family watching fireworks with pets

Pet Fears and Fireworks

Q: Who doesn’t just love fireworks?

A: Most pets.

Pets and Fireworks: Terror and Confusion

July is National Lost Pet Prevention Month, which is very fitting since more pets flood into animal shelters following the 4th of July than at any other time of the year. Often, people don’t realize the impact the sound and fury of fireworks can have on dogs, cats and other pets, but anyone who works at an animal shelter can attest to the fact that our furry friends will go to almost any lengths to alleviate their terror and confusion.

Dogs and cats alike will scale tall fences (or burrow under them), chew through leashes, break metal chains or even crash through doors and just head for the hills, running until they’re exhausted or hiding in the smallest space they can wedge themselves into. Pet birds are also affected, and will sometimes break out of their cages or injure themselves trying to do so.

Before we dive into some solutions and considerations, we want to give a big shout-out to all the new pet parents out there – so many of you saw an opportunity to rescue a dog, cat or other pet from your local animal shelter during this pandemic, and we salute you!  As pet ownership may be a new experience to many of you, we feel it is very important to be aware of one of the most stressful times of the year for many pets – and to help make sure none of them become lost pets – so we’re calling special attention right now to our post regarding the upcoming July 4th holiday.

This year it’s more important than ever to share this information because your new pet hasn’t really had much chance to become familiar and comfortable with their new environment, so please make sure they’re safe and secure, INDOORS, before the fireworks start!  We may be doing things differently this year – probably not hosting backyard barbecues or attending large gatherings in public parks – but we still need to be mindful of providing comfort and protection for our new family members.

Congratulations again to all of you who have saved a life!  And please read on for helpful hints and things to consider…and have a SAFE and HAPPY 4th of July!

How Can I Keep My Pet from Escaping from Home During Fireworks?

Pets lost in these circumstances can be very difficult to find, as they may travel far from home, or be too scared to respond to your calls in a search. Preventing their escape is key. Here are some suggestions, along with links to some helpful resources, in the event your pet does go missing:

  • Bring all of your pets indoors.
    Celebrating our Independence Day with a backyard barbecue has become a popular tradition, so if you are planning one, we recommend that pets be placed in a room inside the house, with the door securely closed. Make sure they have everything they will need for the duration (water, food, toys, piddle pads or a litter box, and their favorite bed) so you don’t have to go in and out of the room. You may even want to lock the door or tape a “Keep Door Closed” sign on the outside should you have friends over, as visiting kids are especially apt to go looking for that dog they hear barking or your cat scratching to get out.Another tradition is the 4th of July picnic in the park, which is great fun for everyone, except your pets.  While going to the park without your best buddy may just feel wrong, everyone will be much safer and happier if you leave him or her at home on this one day. The random firecracker can scare even the calmest dog into a breakaway run.
  • Consider administering a calmative.
    For pets who have more severe reactions (trembling, constant barking or crying, uncontrollable release of bowels or bladder, etc.) you may want to talk to your vet ahead of time about sedatives made specifically for pets. (Note: never give human medicines to your pets unless specifically instructed to do so by a veterinarian!) There are a variety of choices here, including most recently a number of natural CBD oil products that can be very effective in helping your pet weather the storm with a minimum of trauma. It’s best to visit your veterinarian well ahead of time for these, and you may even want to do a trial run on a day that’s not a national holiday (when most vet offices are closed), in case you have questions about dosages, your pets’ reaction, etc.
  • Take pictures of your pets.
    If you don’t already have multiple photos of your beautiful fur babies, do be sure to snap a few pics to have available in case the worst happens and your pet does get lost. Not only will they be needed for Lost Pet fliers, but you’ll want to take them around to your local shelters, too. They will have so many pets coming in over the several days (and sometimes weeks) following the 4th of July that they will appreciate having a photo on hand. Many shelters even have volunteers who do nothing but tour the facilities on a regular basis, photos in hand, trying to match up lost pets with their owners. These wonderful people need all the help they can get, and nothing works better than an actual photo. Here is a link that will help you find the shelters in your area:  https://www.petfinder.com/animal-shelters-and-rescues/search/
  • Consider microchipping your pets.
    There are a number of national pet registries offering these services, and your veterinarian can implant the microchip.  There is no faster way of locating a lost pet, especially when there is such a large influx of them into your local shelters. Here is a link to more information about microchipping your pets: https://www.petfinder.com/dogs/lost-and-found-dogs/microchip-faqs/
Cat licks man's face as he smiles

What Can I Do to Calm and Care for my Pet During Fireworks?

Our favorite option is to take advantage of HDTV and live-stream spectacular fireworks from across the country. Without the audible aspect of fireworks, many pets enjoy the bright lights and trailing embers (especially kitties, as you might imagine.) And what could be more fun than a snuggle on the couch with your cats, dogs, bunnies – basically whichever of your pets might need some reassurance that the sky is not, in fact, falling.