With the approach of Canada Day, everyone – two-legged and four-legged! – is looking forward to beaches, picnics and days filled with sunshine and fun. There will also be many firework displays and although humans look forward to night time so that we can see the sky light up, we have to be careful with our furry friends. If you’re getting ready to set off fireworks, or just watch them in the park, it’s important to keep in mind both safety, and the fact that some dogs, cats, birds, and other pets can be afraid of the sights and sounds. We’ve put together some tips to make sure that everyone has a safe and happy time celebrating.
Fear of fireworks
It’s natural for some pets to get scared of loud noises. This fear can develop at any age, and in the case of dogs, in any breed. According to Pet Place “A fearful dog may freeze, pace, pant, tremble, salivate, try to escape, hide, or bark at the fear-inducing noise. In severe cases, dogs may even injure themselves in their attempts to escape.”
If you know that your pet is fearful of loud sounds, the first step is to keep them inside, preferably in a place where loud noises from outside are highly diminished and the fireworks can’t be seen through a window or glass door Dr. Debbie Stoewen, has other tips:
- Keeping a radio or TV turned up loud can whitewash the noise.
- Staying with your pet can keep them calm and comforted.
- Cats will often choose a corner or covered place to hide, where they’ll feel most secure. Placing the litter box close by may help prevent unwanted accidents.
- Dogs can often be distracted by a Kong stuffed with peanut butter or cheese.
Dr. Chip suggests that for pets who have developed a more severe long standing phobia towards loud noises, you may have to ask your veterinarian for the short term use of a sedative to bring more immediate calming to your dog’s anxiety. A more long term solution would involve behavioural techniques called desensitization and counter-conditioning. With patience, this can be achieved with a sound effects CD and some guidance from your veterinarian. For best results, this should be initiated in the Fall or Winter when there is almost no risk of thunderstorms.
Like with people, pet fireworks safety is paramount if you have a pet. You will need to watch your pets carefully to avoid fire hazards including being too close to hot substances, or straying sparks. Burns will have to be cleaned, treated and antibiotics administered by a licensed veterinarian practitioner.
Also keep in mind that fireworks are toxic, and can cause illness if ingested. They contain agents including potassium nitrate, mercury, antimony, copper, barium, strontium and phosphorus. If you suspect your pet has ingested a fireworks substance, you should bring them immediately to a veterinarian, according to Dr. Chip.