Freedom From Injury: Pet Safety on the Fourth

Ah, the Fourth of July…fireworks, picnics, parades, trips to the veterinary emergency room…

Wait! (*record scratching noise*) What was that? Trips to the veterinary emergency room?!?

Surely, this is not what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they threw off the shackles of their imperial oppressors!

But, sadly, it is a common holiday ritual for pets all over this great and free land. When the fireworks start booming on the Fourth, lots of pets become frightened and disoriented and end up wandering the streets, lost and alone. And when they get out of the safe confines of their home, all sorts of badness can ensue: dog fights, toxins, getting hit by a car, just to name a few.

I work in a veterinary ER, and every year we see the same cases, over and over again. Many of these accidents are preventable. I’m a nice guy, but I’m pretty sure that you don’t want to meet me this year.

Luckily for you and the pets, a little prep work and planning can greatly reduce your chances of making a trip to the veterinary emergency room and making my acquaintance. If you plan ahead, you can spend the holiday focusing on the parades and fun stuff:

  • Bring outside pets inside or put them in a garage or basement during the fireworks (but make sure there are no toxins within reach).
  • Use music, toys or television as a distraction. Keep your pets in the quietest room of your home during the fireworks. Some pets stay calm when they are in a pet crate or in a darkened, quiet room. A toy like the Zoink! Rubber Treat Puzzler that they have to work at for hours (that can be filled with treats as a reward) is a great way to keep their mind off the noise.
  • Make sure your pet has identification such as license, tag or microchip. Pets with ID have a much greater chance of being returned home.
  • Use the power of pheromones: Phero…whaaaa? Pheromones are chemical messengers that mother dogs use to calm their puppies. SENTRY has scientifically isolated them and placed them in a collar that your dog can wear to reduce the stress that dogs experience on the Fourth.
  • Xanax, anyone? Talk to your veterinarian well ahead of time about safe sedation to use with your pet (older pets and those with medical conditions may not be able to be sedated safely). July 3rd is no time to be searching for a sedative! Maybe next year…
  • When you assume, you… Don’t assume things are safe this year just because your pet hasn’t had problems in the past. Some dogs will change their habits as they age.
  • When all is lost: If your pet is lost, check all local shelters, check back often and check online. It may take some time before spooked pets are brought to shelters. Call local veterinary ER’s and check the local online newspaper and Craigslist.

If you are going out on the Fourth, check back in or ask a neighbor to check on your pets. If they do get out, the sooner you start looking the better your chances.

Good luck and keep your pets safe on the Fourth – let’s save meeting each other for another time!

-Photo Credit: By Mar Sension

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