Photo Credit Ellen Dykstra Photography
Many Americans like to celebrate the Fourth of July with barbecues and fireworks but it’s important to take a look at things through your dog’s eyes too. Fireworks will often cause fear and anxiety. It’s up to us as responsible pet owners to keep our canine companions as comfortable and safe as possible.
1. The American Humane Association (AHA) reports that July 5 is the busiest day of the year for animal shelters. Dogs may panic at the sound of fireworks and flee into the night, often winding up lost, or injured. Even if you have a safe and securely fenced back yard a dog that is spooked by the noise of fireworks may try to jump over the fence or dig under trying to find a safe place away from the fireworks. Be sure that your dog has an ID tag with your current contact information attached to its collar. An ID Tag is your pups ticket home should he slip out a door or become spooked by the noise of fireworks and flee.
2. Dogs do not love fireworks displays. The noise, flashes of light and crowds may be overwhelming for your pup so it’s best to leave them home. If you crate your dog it may find the crate to be the safest and most secure spot during fireworks. Even better, move the crate to a quiet, isolated and cool place like the basement to help muffle the noise. You can also play a radio or TV to create some background noise. If your dog seems fearful of fireworks do not try to soothe them or coddle them during this time. By coddling them you may be reinforcing this behavior and cause them to be fearful every time they hear fireworks.
3. Keep your dog away from sparklers and glow sticks. Sparklers may seem less threatening to your dog than fireworks but sparklers are still hot and a dog running around and playing could run into one or step on one and get burned. Glow sticks may also seem harmless but if your dog chews on them the ASPCA states that while not highly toxic, “excessive drooling and gastrointestinal irritation could still result from ingestions, and intestinal blockage could occur from swallowing large pieces of the plastic containers”.
4. Keep your dog away from used fireworks too. The remnants from used fireworks can be hazardous. Some fireworks contain potentially toxic substances such as arsenic, potassium nitrate, and other heavy metals.
5. Having a quiet backyard barbecue? Please monitor your dogs around the grill. The ASPCA lists chlorates as a harmful chemical substance found in some matches and if they are ingested they can cause your dog to have difficulty breathing, damage blood cells, or even cause kidney disease. If exposed to lighter fluid, your pet may sustain skin irritation on contact, respiratory problems if inhaled, and gastric problems if ingested. Burned out coals from the grill may still smell like meat and your dog may be tempted to eat them causing gastric distress or a blockage.
While we like to spend time outside enjoying our dogs, the Fourth of July isn’t the most pet-friendly holiday. By looking at things from your dog’s point of view and using some preventive measures everyone can have a safe and happy Fourth of July.