Tips to keep your pet safe, calm around fireworks

WEST SENECA, N.Y. (WIVB) – Every year around the 4th of July, shelters around the country see a spike in calls from people looking for their pets who got away from them during fireworks displays.

When it comes to fireworks, many people love the big booms and bright flashes. Many of our pets do not.

“You know your pets better than anyone else. You know how they’ll react,” said Gary Willoughby, President and CEO of the SPCA Serving Erie County. “If they’re scared of thunder or if they’re scared of loud noises, they’re probably not going to like the firework.”

For some animals, the fireworks can be so stressful, they end up running away to try to find a safe place to hide, leading to a boost in the number of lost animals being brought into shelters in the day or so after the holiday.

“If they’re at the end of a chain or just wandering loose, they may look for an escape and that’s where they may take off and dig under a fence, go over a fence, whatever it takes to get out of that scary area,” Willoughby explained.

Willoughby says your best bet is to keep your animals inside your home during fireworks. “Certainly, I wouldn’t have your dogs out with you,” he said.  “They may chase firecrackers and things and try to swallow them, which wouldn’t be good for them. It’s obviously going to scare them as well.”

Pet parents really need to do all they can to ease their animal’s anxiety during this stressful season. Willoughby says he keeps one of his dogs in a Thunder Shirt during fireworks, because the gentle pressure of the anxiety vest for animals helps keep her calm.

He also suggests crating a dog who feels comfortable in that space, or keeping your animal in a quiet room, like a bedroom, to keep them feeling safe and calm until the fireworks are over.

Willoughby says it’s important to have an ID tag on your pet in case it does get away from you. “Obviously, if your dog is microchipped that’s wonderful,” he said, “But if not, make sure you have that collar and that tag, so if he does go missing, most likely your neighbor is going to find him first, they know where to bring them back.”

If you find an animal without an ID tag, you can call your local animal control office, shelter, or even a veterinarian to get the animal checked for a microchip. The SPCA can help direct you to the proper resource whether you’re looking for your pet or looking to reconnect a lost pet with its owner.

Keep in mind, though, many places, including the SPCA Serving Erie County, are closed to the public on July 4 because of the holiday.

Willoughby says in recent years, fewer animals have been brought in after the holiday, as more people take better steps to protect their pets during fireworks. “I think every year, people do a better job learning,” he said. “Everyone’s trying to be proactive and give them all the resources ahead of time.”

You can see more tips to keep your pet safe and happy this Independence Day on the SPCA website by clicking here.

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