Many people associate the Fourth of July as a holiday to be spent outside with friends and family and it is natural to want to include our four-legged friends. However, we cannot forget that these festivities may cause more stress than enjoyment for our pets.
According to Chris Bane-Hayes, a front desk associate at the Richmond SPCA, “We have an overwhelming increase in calls about missing pets every year after the Fourth of July. Even if your dog has been to fireworks before, he may bolt because he is scared. It is heartbreaking because some families never find their pets again.”
Animals have an acute sense of hearing, and unlike people, pets do not associate the bright flashes and loud noises of fireworks with a celebration. The noises, bright lights and smells of fireworks often result in panicked pets escaping from their homes or yards. Across the country, the Fourth of July is the number one night for escaped pets to become stray animals that end up in animal shelters. Make sure that your pet feels safe and secure during this festive holiday with the following tips:
- If you are heading out to a fireworks display, leave your pet at home.
- Opt to keep them in a secure, protected room or basement. Play music or keep the TV on to muffle outside noises and cover windows and doors so pets won’t see the flashes of light.
- Exercise your dog earlier in the day before festivities begin and bring them indoors well before evening displays are scheduled.
- Take a current photo of your cats and dogs– just in case.
- Distract your pet if he appears anxious or scared rather than attempting to “correct” his anxiety. Your confidence and comfort will help him more than punishing fearful behavior.
- Cats will usually just run and hide, and it is usually best to just let them do that.
- After the celebration, check your yard for firework debris before allowing pets outside to play or relax. Even if you did not set off fireworks in your own yard, debris may have found its way into your yard and can be dangerous to animals.
Angi Baber, the administrator of Lost & Found Dogs- Richmond, a Facebook page that helps to get lost pets back to their homes, emphasizes, “No matter what, having your pet microchipped is an important thing to do. In the event your pet does get lost, it can help make reunions happen faster.” However, a microchip is only as useful as the contact information maintained in the database. Be sure that your microchip company knows the best way to reach you and has been updated if you’ve moved or changed phone numbers since your pet was chipped. Guardians who have adopted from the Richmond SPCA should contact 24PetWatch to confirm accurate contact information.
With some proactive planning, you and your pet can have a happy and safe Independence Day!
Sarah Pavilack is spending the summer shadowing the Richmond SPCA communications department and is a rising senior at Virginia Tech. To read the biographies of our regular bloggers, please click here. Before posting a comment, please review our comment guidelines. Please note that our comment policy requires a first and last name to be used as your screen name.