Pets and Fireworks Safety

by Paul Konrardy

New Year’s Eve and the Fourth of July are two big holidays for fireworks. With that in mind, here are tips from animal experts to help keep your pet calm when fireworks light up the night sky.

The Sound

According to The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), nearly one in five lost pets goes missing after being frightened by loud noises such as fireworks. To avoid that from happening, try these tips from VetStreet, PetMD and the ASPCA:

  • Prepare your pet ahead of time by playing videos or recordings of loud noises starting at a lower volume, and reward them with treats so they associate the noise with something positive.
  • Provide your pet with a quiet, sheltered and escape-proof area at home if the treats just aren’t working and your pet is still scared. (Note: Although cats don’t suffer from noise phobias as often as dogs when they are frightened, they tend to hide. Keeping them in an area where they can “disappear” but where you can easily find them when it’s all over is a good idea.)
  • Try “white noise”: a TV or radio played low, the hum of your A/C or any other steady background noise that the animal will find soothing. There are white noise apps that you can download, such as those from TMSoft, Spotify or those listed on Techlicious.
  • If your pet is absolutely terrified, ask your vet about calming strategies such as massages, acupressure, an anxiety vest or a snugly fitting t-shirt, or, in extreme cases, a vet-prescribed tranquilizer.

WHN TIP – Don’t Share: If your vet does prescribe anti-anxiety medication, the ASPCA recommends giving it a trial run before fireworks day to see how your pet responds. Also, don’t give your pet more than the prescribed dose and never use it for another pet.

Another tip—this one from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)—is to make sure wherever your pet is, the environment is secure so it can’t take off. Needless to say, don’t take your pet to fireworks displays, parades or other places where loud and unexpected sounds can frighten your animal. You might enjoy the racket but odds are your pet won’t.

The Taste

We all know that pets, like little kids, tend to touch and taste things they shouldn’t, and during the holiday, that can include fireworks—both those have exploded and those that are “duds.” Lit fireworks can burn your pet’s face and paws, says the ASPCA, while chewing on or eating fireworks can cause gastrointestinal upset, foreign body obstruction or even worse.

Pet Poison Hotline lists the types of chemicals that can be in fireworks:

  • oxidizing agents typically from potassium nitrate
  • reducing agents like charcoal or sulfur
  • coloring agents that are potentially dangerous heavy metals

Other less dangerous ingredients can be binders and regulators (the wick or fuse). Even those innocent-looking sparklers can lead to problems since the variety of salts they contain can cause problems in the GI tract, says the ASPCA.

Keep the fireworks away from your pets, and after the celebration, the AVMA recommends doing a sweep of the outside area to clean the area of any fireworks debris. Make sure that the fireworks are completely out before picking them up, dousing them with water to be on the safe side.

Photo Credit: Unsplash

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