Pets And Fireworks Don’t Mix

Independence Day is a favorite time of year for many people, not so much for pets.

According to the Kansas State University Veterinary Health Department, as fireworks light up the sky and people gather for barbecues, this can cause anxiety and danger for pets across the country. Pet owners should start making plans now to keep pets safe and comfortable during the Fourth of July, said Susan Nelson, clinical professor at the Kansas State University Veterinary Health Center, a part of the College of Veterinary Medicine.

“It is best to speak to your veterinarian now to explore medication options for your pet if needed,” Nelson said. “The majority of fireworks will be set off on July 4, a day your veterinarian’s office might be closed.”

It is important to keep pets on a leash if they need to go outside. Owners should consider having pets wear a collar with ID tags and microchipping their pet. This helps pets be traced to their owners in case they get lost. It is also important to make sure that contact information is up to date.

Having pets stay inside can keep them safe from the heat and from people who may try to harm them with fireworks.

“Keeping pets in their crate or in a secure room can help some pets feel safe and less anxious,” Nelson said. “Be sure to close the blinds or use heavy curtains to block out the flashes of light. Soothing music, turning on the TV or white noise machine may help block out the noise that comes with this holiday.”

Nelson also suggests the following to help a pet remain calm this Fourth of July:

• Try an anxiety wrap specially made for pets as it may help calm those with mild anxiety.
• Using over-the-counter supplements made for anxious pets may benefit those with mild to moderate noise anxiety. Make sure to check with your vet that there are no unsafe interactions between these and any medications they may be taking.
• Consider temporarily relocating your pet to a quieter friend or relative’s house or kennel during this time.
• Talk to your veterinarian about prescription anti-anxiety medications if your pet has a severe fear of loud noises. Several different medications are available to help treat anxiety due to loud noises. Have the medication ready for your pet to consume on the first day that fireworks are allowed to begin in your community.
• Distract your pet with items such as food puzzles and/or treat-stuffed dog toys.

“Even if your pet is not bothered by the fireworks and noise, it is best to leave them at home when attending firework shows,” Nelson said. “The crowds filled with strangers, combined with the noise and flashes can bring out unpredictable behaviors.”

Noises from fireworks are not the only thing to be conscious of to keep your pet safe.

“It is important to keep dangerous things away from your pet, the same you way you would with kids,” Nelson said. These hazardous items include lighters, punks, matches, lighter fluid, glow jewelry, citronella candles/oils, insect coils/repellent and unlit and lit fireworks.”

Do not apply products on pets that are not labeled for safe use on them. While it might be tempting to use insect repellent on your pet, find some that are pet friendly. Repellent that contains DEET is toxic for pets.

“Some foods, like chocolate, macadamia nuts, onions, grapes or raisins, coffee, salt and yeast-based bread dough are all potentially toxic for pets,” Nelson said. “Pets often experience vomiting and/or diarrhea when given foods they do not regularly eat.”

When fatty foods are ingested, it can lead to life threatening pancreatitis. Corncobs, bones and wooden barbecue skewers can cause blockage of the intestinal tracts if swallowed. Keep any foods or candies sweetened with artificial sweeteners, such as xylitol, out of reach due to toxicity in pets.

Make sure to keep any alcoholic beverages out of reach from pets as well.

If you suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, call your veterinarian, the ASPCA Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435 or the Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661 immediately for advice.

For more information, contact the Veterinary Health Center at 785-532-5690.