Editorial: Keep pets safe, too, on July 4

Fireworks may elicit “oohs” and “aahs” among children and adults alike on July 4. But for our four-legged family members, pyrotechnics can be downright frightening.

The loud pops and explosions can spook pets, particularly dogs. More pets go missing over the Fourth of July holiday than at any other time of the year, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. July 5 is routinely one of the busiest days of the year for animal shelters in the United States because of dogs that run away after being frightened by the loud noises of fireworks.


In fact, the sounds can be so scary, that dogs may find a way to escape by digging under or hopping over a fence that they usually would not. That also presents a serious danger to the animals, who may blindly bolt into the street and into oncoming traffic to escape the loud noises.

Because of this, experts recommend leaving dogs inside the house, in a familiar space with some toys or treats to keep them occupied, during fireworks celebrations on Independence Day. Just make sure there is no easy access to outside.

Most pet stores sell food puzzles or you can fill a Kong toy with peanut butter and put it in the freezer, which will make it last longer. These will help keep your dog’s mind off the rocket’s red glare and bombs bursting in air outside.

Getting your dog plenty of exercise during the day so that he or she has less pent-up energy in the evening is also a good idea on July 4.

It is also wise to make sure all pets have updated forms of identification on their collars. ID tags with up-to-date information can be purchased rather inexpensively from kiosks at places like Walmart or Lowe’s. Include the pet’s name and the best phone number to reach you at the very least, and your address if there is enough room and you feel comfortable having it out there.

Another good idea is to take a current photo of your pets. With the advent of social media, it’s much easier to spread word of a missing pet than posting pictures on telephone poles around town.

If your dog does run off, do not run after him or her. Running after them will trigger the “flight” response again if they are already frightened, causing them to run farther away. Experts recommend turning your back and walking away as if you want them to chase you, or sit or lay flat on the ground. Your pet will most likely return to you to investigate.

Even if your pet is safe and sound inside during fireworks celebrations, if you are using any ground-based sparklers or other types of fireworks at your house, be sure to clean up any debris from your yard before you let pets run around outside. You don’t want them playing with or eating it.

Finally, while temperatures on July 4 are not expected to reach the dangerous highs of earlier this week, it will still be quite hot outside. And you’re not wearing a furry coat. Temperatures are even hotter to pets, so if they are spending time outdoors with you on the day off, make sure they have a readily available fresh water supply and lots of it. Watch out for signs of heat stress such as anxiousness, excessive panting or drooling, and abnormal gum or tongue color.

Have a safe and happy Fourth, and make sure your pets do too.