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Fireworks Safety for Pets

New Year's Eve is a few days away, and we all know that many of the festivities planned for that night include fireworks. Different pets react differently to loud, unfamiliar sounds like fireworks. While some are not at all bothered, others experience feelings from mild anxiety to severe panic. It's important for pet owners to take the necessary steps to keep their furry family members comfortable, calm, and safe when fireworks are being detonated.

Keep Your Pet Inside.

All pets should remain inside as much as possible while fireworks are exploding. Ensure that your pet has a safe place where he can feel protected such as a closet, bathroom, kennel or carrier. Pets who experience severe anxiety resulting in destructive or harmful behavior are best kept in a kennel or carrier for their safety. Confining your pet in a room, kennel, or carrier will also prevent him from bolting out the door if you have guests entering and existing. Make sure your pet's safe space has blankets/bedding for comfort and toys or familiar items that can aid in distracting and calming him. Kongs with peanut butter or his favorite treats are great, and catnip may help some kitties. Playing music or the TV can serve as a distraction as well.

It is best to take your pet on his walk prior to when you expect the fireworks to begin. If you do take your pet outside to potty, check his collar/harness for a proper fit that doesn't allow him to become free if he struggles. Using a harness is best, because if your dog does freak out, there will be no choking or pressure on the neck and trachea. Make sure you keep a firm grip on his leash. Even pets who have done well in the past with fireworks may become frightened or confused due to the variety and volume of fireworks that are being used.

If you know your pet will experience anxiety from the loud and constant barrage of fireworks or you have a new pet and you're not sure, stay home with him on New Year's Eve or find a pet sitter. Please do not leave an anxious or terrified pet at home by himself.

Use A Collar With ID Tags. Microchip Your Pet.

It's widely reported every year that more pets go missing on July 4th due to their attempts to escape the loud noises of fireworks. Pet owners should be just as concerned of this possibility during New Year's fireworks. All pets should be microchipped and wear a collar with an ID tag that has a current phone number. A rabies tag can be helpful in that it contains the name and number of the veterinary clinic that issued the tag, and that clinic has your contact information. However, if your pet is lost and found during a time when the clinic is not open, being reunited with your pet could be delayed. It's best to have additional identifying tags. Be sure to update your information with the microchip company and/or veterinary clinic any time you move.

Keep your pet's veterinary records organized and easily accessible. These records should include the current rabies vaccination information and other vaccine records. Keep a current picture of your pet with these records. If your pet is lost and found, your records and picture will serve as proof of ownership and make reclaiming your pet much easier.

Consult Your Veterinarian Regarding Medication

Pets that have severe anxiety may benefit from medication that reduces anxiety and/or causes sedation. There are a wide variety of anti-anxiety medications for cats and dogs that are safe and effective. Administering one of these medications prior to the fireworks will help calm your pet and prevent destructive and harmful behavior. Always administer medications as directed, and do not give your pet an additional dose sooner than directed without consulting your veterinarian. Do not administer your own over-the-counter or prescription medications without consulting your veterinarian. Do not leave your pet alone after administering any medication that can alter or depress his mental status or coordination.

Keep Your Pet Away From The Fireworks.

Keep your pet away from the fireworks before, during and after the show. If you purchase fireworks, store them in an area that is not accessible by your pet. Fireworks can contain substances that are toxic and can cause severe illness in pets if eaten and non-toxic materials can still cause irritation to the gastrointestinal tract and possible intestinal obstruction if enough is ingested.

Even if your pet is not at all frightened by the sounds and site of fireworks, it's best to keep him confined while fireworks are being ignited. You never know if your pet will try to chase or grab a lit firework which could result in being hit by a car or burns and injuries to the mouth and face. Dogs have also been injured by fireworks that go astray.

Once the fireworks are over, pick up all of the debris once it is no longer hot. A spent firework can still contain toxic substances and can cause the same issues a live firework can if ingested. When you walk your dog, be vigilant of firework debris that others have failed to pick up.

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