How to avoid cases of pet pyrotechnic panic triggered by holiday fireworks

ST. GEORGE — While most people enjoy the boisterous ballistic bliss of the fireworks that accompany the 4th and 24th of July in Utah, not everyone in your household – namely your pets – may be as enthusiastic about it. Those loud booms can give nearly any dog or car a case of pet pyrotechnic panic.

Cat and dog hanging out | Photo from Pixabay, St. George News

According to the American Kennel Club, more dogs go missing around July 4 and 5 than any other day of the year, and it’s attributed to panic triggered by fireworks.

“We definitely see more reports of people missing animals,” said April Jewell, supervisor of the St. George Animal Shelter.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals also reports that its Animal Poison Control Center also receives an increase in calls around Independence Day due to pets having issues with loud noises from fireworks or even having eaten fireworks.

The loud booms can scare both cats and dogs, though the reaction from dogs tends to be more pronounced.

Loud bangs and booms will commonly send a cat into hiding, while a dog will do its best to escape the noises altogether. In other words, Fido will start running and keep running.

“We’ve had some dogs that have jumped through windows, they’ve been so scared,” Jewell said.

Cookie the Dog, St. George, Utah, March 31, 2020 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

These pets can get lost and end up in the custody of an area animal shelter. However, some dogs may not be so lucky due to being injured or killed in traffic or attacked by predators depending on where they may end up.

Pet owners are recommended to have identification tags on their pets, as well as getting them microchipped so they can be located more easily if they end up in another city’s animal shelter.

The following are tips from the ASPCA website for pet owners to help keep their pets safe and panic-free while the fireworks are underway:

  • Something as simple as turning on some music for background noise and moving your pet into an interior room with no windows can be helpful.
  • An anxiety vest may work in some cases. If you don’t have one, try a snug-fitting T-shirt.
  • While noise phobias are not as common in cats, they can and do happen. Fortunately, cats tend to hide when frightened. Checking in on your cats, having some quiet music on and keeping them indoors during the height of the fireworks is always a good idea.
  • If you and your veterinarian decide that anti-anxiety medication is your pet’s best bet, there are a few things to remember. First and foremost, give a practice dose of the medication before the big night to see how your pet responds to the medication. Second, never share the medication with another pet or give more than the recommended amount. If you do, you may end up spending the holiday at your local veterinary emergency clinic.
McDougal the Dog, St. George, Utah, March 31, 2020 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

When it comes to pets that like to taste new and unusual things, never underestimate that pet’s level of curiosity.

  • While cats are typically a little smarter, some dogs will eat anything, regardless of how it tastes – including fireworks, which can contain several types of chemicals and heavy metals.
  • If you set off fireworks at home, make sure you thoroughly clean up the area before letting your pets have access to that spot again.

Additional tips:

  • Keep pets away from lit fireworks at all times, including in your own yard or street, as some will chase after the bright moving objects and are at risk to be burned or blinded in the process.
  • If your pet does go missing over the holiday, check immediately and often with local animal shelters. Go to the shelter in person to identify your pet, rather than calling or emailing, as staff may not be able to respond in a timely enough fashion.

Under Utah law, fireworks can be set off two days before and one day after the Fourth of July and Pioneer Day.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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