Tag Archives: fireworks

Don’t Let Your Pet Slurp This Holiday Favorite – Only Bad Consequences Result

Unfortunately, July 5 is the busiest day of the year for animal shelters simply because so many pets panic at the sound of fireworks, escape through an open door or window and disappear into the night. Many turn up miles from home frightened, disoriented, dehydrated and sometimes injured. Others are lost forever.

That’s why each year I take a few minutes to remind everyone to consider the needs of furry family members during Fourth of July activities. There are a number of hazards you can easily avoid or at least be aware of to insure the safety and health of your pet today.

Dos and Don’ts for July 4

1. DO ID your pet. In the event your dog or kitty is lost during all the confusion and commotion of holiday get-togethers, make sure she can be identified with an up-to-date ID collar or tag, permanent tattoo or microchip.

2. DO keep party and barbeque foods out of reach of your pet. Feed your dog or cat his regular diet for the holiday, and be especially careful to secure potentially toxic people foods like chocolate, coffee, onions, grapes, raisins and bread dough. Consuming the contents of the grill grease trap is a common cause of summertime pancreatitis, especially in dogs, so make sure to keep pets away from the grill.

3. DON’T give your pet access to glow jewelry. If eaten, it can cause excessive drooling, GI irritation and potentially, intestinal blockage.

4. DO keep alcoholic drinks out of reach of your pet. Beer, wine and liquor can poison your dog or cat. Depending on how much is ingested, your pet can become very intoxicated, weak, depressed and can even slip into a coma. Severe alcohol poisoning can result in death from respiratory failure.

5. DON’T force your pet to wear a costume for July 4. Unless your dog (or even less likely, your cat) loves to play dress-up, don’t push the issue. Make sure anything you dress your pet in is comfortably loose and doesn’t restrict movement in any way. And remember it’s July — your pet can easily get overheated.

6. DO keep citronella candles, oils and insect coils out of reach of your pet. Ingestion can cause stomach irritation and potentially, central nervous system symptoms. Inhaling the oil can cause breathing difficulties and aspiration pneumonia in pets.

7. DO keep matches and lighter fluid out of reach. Some matches contain chlorate, which can damage blood cells, impair respiration and cause kidney disease. Lighter fluid can irritate your pet’s skin, and if ingested can cause GI upset and central nervous system depression. Inhaling lighter fluid can result in breathing difficulties and aspiration pneumonia.

8. DON’T allow your pet outside, especially after dark. If she’ll be within range of the sights and sounds of fireworks, try to secure her in a room without windows. Create a safe haven with bedding, a toy or two and a few treats. Turn on a TV, radio or other music to help muffle the noise from outside.

Leave someone at home with your pet if possible, but whatever you do, don’t leave her outside alone. If she becomes frightened, even a fenced yard may not keep her safe. Dogs have been injured while making panicked attempts to escape their yard, and those that succeed can run away, be hit by a car or stolen by a stranger.

Another Don’t: Fireworks and Pets

Professional fireworks displays can be stressful and frightening for pets, so I don’t recommending bringing your dog or cat along. Even normally calm dogs can get spooked and disoriented by the noise, lights and crowds involved in a fireworks display. You certainly don’t want to frighten your four-legged family member or put him in a situation where he might bolt or become aggressive due to fear.

Even pets left at home can be frightened by the loud noises that seem to go on forever the evening of July 4. Your dog or cat has a much better sense of hearing than you do, so sudden loud sounds can be especially unsettling. And this goes double if your pet is older.

If your Independence Day celebration involves backyard fireworks, make sure your pet is safe indoors well ahead of time. Lit fireworks can result in severe burns and other injuries, and unused fireworks contain potentially toxic substances like potassium nitrate and arsenic. Also be sure to pick up all fireworks debris from your backyard before letting your pet outside again.

Signs your pet is afraid of fireworks or other loud noises include shaking, vocalizing (barking or howling), excessive drooling, looking for a place to hide or escape attempts.

If your pet has a noise phobia, the time to make a stress-reduction plan is before the triggering event occurs. I recommend taking your dog out earlier in the day for some vigorous exercise or playtime to tire him out. Turn on the TV or some music to help muffle the sound of fireworks.

Natural stress solutions to consider before the fireworks begin include diffusing calming essential oils, administering flower essences or calming herbs (l-theanine, rhodiola, 5-HTP, chamomile, holy basil, GABA and ashwagandha) or giving your pet a calming TTouchmassage. With a little advance planning, you can prevent problems for your pet over the July 4 holiday. It will be much easier for you and your family to relax and enjoy the celebrations if you’re not worrying about your pet’s health and safety.


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Can summer really be happy for fearful pets?

Do you remember the fun and freedom of summer when you were a child? Maybe your family pets felt the same joy, splashing in the creek or curling up while their favorite family member daydreamed on the porch.
Unfortunately, that idyllic scenario doesn’t play out for many pets today who suffer from extreme fear of thunderstorms and fireworks, two things that come hand in hand with summer in most parts of North America.
As you know, I have dedicated the past several years and the rest of my career as a veterinarian to helping prevent and treat fear, anxiety, and stress in our pets  through the Fear Free movement. This one is personal for me, as our own dogs Quixote and Quora have come increasingly fearful of loud noises, especially fireworks, as they’ve aged.
Many people are very hesitant to ask their veterinarian for help with this problem, as they’re uncomfortable giving sedating medications to their pets. I understand this; no pet should be given unnecessary drug treatment!
But there are many things you can do that don’t involve drugs: Creating a “den” for your pet in a closet, interior bathroom, or other quiet place is one, although many pets don’t want to be off by themselves when they’re frightened. These pets need to be in contact with their humans if at all possible.
Another is a wrap such as the Thundershirt, Anxiety Wrap, or Calmz vest. You can even use a scarf. These tools can often calm mild anxiety in pets, and be used in combination with other steps to help your pet relax during stressful situations.
Then there are the “chill pills,” supplements such as Zylkene, Solliquin, Composure, Anxitane, and similar products that, when used over time, take the edge of a pet’s reactivity to stressful stimuli like loud noises and storms.
I often recommend closing the blinds or drapes, putting on the television, an audio-book, soothing music, or a fan to help mute the frightening sounds.
Contrary to what you might have heard, yes, you should comfort your pet when he’s scared! The idea that we should withhold our comfort because it will “reward” their fear is based on a complete misunderstanding of what fear is. Fear is a physical and emotional state, not a behavior. You should absolutely stay calmly, lovingly responsive to your pet, including making gentle physical contact, when he seeks this from you during a stressful event.
What you don’t want to do is make him more anxious with your anxiety. Don’t use a high voice. Don’t flutter and agonize. Stay calm yourself, and let your love and serenity communicate to him that everything is fine and you’ll keep him safe.
Finally, please don’t rule out medication. Drugs such as alprazolam (generic for Xanax), trazodone, and the new Sileo can not only calm your pet but actually help break the association between noise and the fear reaction, which can eventually make your pet less reactive to those sounds.
Don’t, however, use the drug ace promazine, also known as just “ace.” This is a sedating medication that will quiet your dog and make him less able to react to his environment — which can look to you like he’s less scared — but has no anti-anxiety effect and appears to increase, not decrease, noise phobias over time.
If you think your pet could benefit from supplements or medications, don’t wait until he needs them to get started. Talk to your veterinarian today and see if you can make summer the joyful experience for your pet is was for you as a child!
Wags, meows, and the occasional neigh,
Dr. Marty Becker,

“American’s Veterinarian”

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Prepare your furkidz for New Year’s Eve stress from noise

Fireworks can be a scary experience for dogs, and may even cause them to run away — but this easy trick could help prevent your dog from getting scared at all.

Holidays, such as the 4th of July, can be terrifying days for dogs.  There are lots of people, new smells and of course, lots and lots of loud noises.  This New Year’s Eve fireworks will frighten countless dogs wherever they are set off.

Fireworks can make dogs want to run and hide, which can put them in potentially dangerous situations.  It might seem like there’s no way to make your dog more comfortable when the fireworks start booming.  The Thundershirt is a “dog anxiety vest”.  It acts as a “swaddle” for dogs, applying pressure on their body to help relieve fear, over-excitement, or stress.  But you don’t have to buy one.  The DIY version gives simple instructions on how to use a piece of fabric, like a scarf, to wrap around the dog’s body and mimic the Thundershirt’s effect.

This is a quick and easy way to make your dog feel safe when fireworks are going off.  The simple wrap can be made with just a piece of fabric — and could possibly save your dog’s life.

The wrap is designed to calm your dog so he doesn’t get the urge to run away, getting lost or running into traffic.

With this simple trick, you could help keep your dog feeling safe and much less anxious during fireworks and other loud holiday noises.

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INDOORS & SAFE on New Year’s Eve!


Please take precautions ahead of time to ensure your pets will be safe on New Years Eve.  Don’t let them become a statistic!  Check fences and gates to make sure they’re secure, and look for holes where they can escape under the fence.  BETTER YET … keep your pets safely indoors … and make sure they don’t bolt through a temporarily opened door.  Also, make sure your dog is wearing a collar with tags – and that the info on the tags is current!

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Prepare for the 4th: Six Tips to Prevent Lost Pets This Holiday


In the U.S., July 4th is a day of celebration with BBQ’s, block parties and my favorite … the fireworks.

Unfortunately, our pets don’t share the same fondness for the holiday.  The hot dogs and chips that fall on the ground are great but …
The fireworks can be utterly terrifying for our pets.

According to the American Humane Society more pets will run away from home on July 4th, frightened and afraid, than any other night of the year.

To keep Fluffy and Fido safe, and more importantly at home where they belong, follow these 3 simple steps:

  1. Look for signs of stress or anxiety in your pet. (Here are the top 8 signs)
  2. Keep your pets home and inside, sheltered from the loud noises.  ESPECIALLY if normal loud noises upset them (slamming doors, screaming children, etc.)
  3. Make sure that some form of identification is securely affixed to your pet’s collar.


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Prepare for the 4th: Six Tips to Prevent Lost Pets This Holiday

Preparing for the 4th of July can prevent lost pets

The4th of July and the days immediately following are historically the busiest days of the year for U.S. shelters, but a bit of preparation before our nation’s birthday is key to preventing lost pets.  Paying heed to these six preventive tips can help you keep your dogs and cats safe and sound this holiday:

1. Plan the day.  Though it might be fun for you (human) to keep things spur of the moment and off the cuff on a day like the 4th, a lack of a plan can be super-duper stressful and ultimately detrimental to your pet.   Take a few minutes now to map out the potential plans for the day: pool parties, cook-outs, visiting friends & families, and, most especially… fireworks.   For each potential activity, decide ahead of time where the dog and cat will be and think critically about if that situation is going to be stressful for them (or stressful for you because of them), and then decide on your plan of action to eliminate those stress points so you provide a safe and pleasant experience for your furry family members.

2. Check your pets’ external IDs. Is the writing on their ID tag legible (or scannable if you have a digital ID tag like a PetHub QR ID)?  Is their license up to date and visible?  Is their collar (or harness) well-fitted so it won’t be easy to back out of, but is still comfortable to wear?  Remember — external IDs are the FASTEST way for your pet to get home if they go AWOL (absent without a leash).   Don’t rely on microchips or even a GPS collar alone to protect your pet.   Make sure they are protected with a current, easy to read and access external ID tag and reliable collar/harness that is worn at all times.

3. Update your microchip data.  Speaking of microchips — when was the last time you double checked that the registration for the chip was up-to-date?  If it has been more than a year, then that is too long.  Your best bet for making sure everything is ready-to-go is to take a quick trip down to your vet and ask them to do a microchip check.  They’ll scan your dog or cat, check the data so you can verify everything is current and also let you know if the chip has migrated in the animal’s body.  This type of sanity check should be done once a year, and the weeks before a hectic holiday like July 4th is a perfect time.

4. Know your pet’s stress points. Unless your dog or cat is brand new to your home, you likely know if they scare easily with loud noises and lots of commotion.  If you are not sure, take some time in the next few weeks to acclimate them to the noises they will hear that night.  Also, consider looking into products like Thundershirt and iCalm which can often help alleviate stress during situations like fireworks.  Most important of all… refer back to step #1: plan ahead so you have things set up ahead of time for your pet to be comfortable, secure and safe during all activities on the big day.

5. Watch those table scraps!  Cookouts will be plentiful on the 4th, and the opportunities for your pooch to swipe hot dog or five will be abundant.  A bit of a (healthy) treat here and there is fine — but it is easy for a pup to overindulge as we celebrate around him.  Be very mindful of Fido while he roams the picnic crowd, set expectations with your guests ahead of time so they aren’t sharing their plates with him and remind yourself of foods that are toxic and either ensure those foods are always out of his reach or avoid having them at the event altogether.

6. Keep them contained. Most likely, your pets will not be joining you for the big fireworks display after dark (and they most likely prefer that!). Before you leave the house to head to the big show, ensure all doors, windows, and exit points are secured and escape-proofed.  Avoid leaving your pets outside while you are away, as this is just begging for an attempt to escape the booms and flashes.  The best solution of all is to safely crate your pet.  To give them even more comfort, leave an article of clothing with your scent on it to help soothe them, and sound-proof the room they are in as much as possible.  And please, come home after the event as soon as you can — it’s been a stressful night for your furry family members and they need some hugs and cuddles.

By taking the time in the weeks ahead of a big, loud, overwhelming holidayJuly 4th you can circumvent a lot of stress and danger for your four (or three!) legged companions.

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Safety reminders for dog owners for the Fourth of July

Be safe for the 4th of July

Dog owners know that the fireworks which hail the arrival of our nation’s celebration of Independence Day can mean sheer terror for our four-legged friends.

Most dog owners are aware that the patriotic “booms” which excite so many can turn your fur-babies into a quivering, terror-filled mess.  With that being said, here are just a few last minute pieces of advice to keep your dog safe and happy as the celebrations kick into high gear.

A dog who has never jumped a fence before might give it a go if terrified by the incessant “booms” echoing through the night.  Do not chance it – leave your dog indoors.

A dog who has paid never glanced twice at a loose fence board may seek it out and bolt in the midst of celebratory chaos.  Do not chance it – leave your dog indoors.

A dog who has never toyed with a gate latch may become Houdini when seeking escape from the thunder-like booms that will likely surround your house.  Do not chance it – leave your dogs indoors.

Check and double-check that your dog’s collar and tags are on securely.  Remember, a good Samaritan seeks out identification on a dog’s collar first – not everyone is aware of microchips.

Walk through your home to make sure that there are no loose screens, or un-latched doors which may provide an unexpected exit for your dog.

If you are leaving home and won’t be near your pup to help provide peace of mind, turn on some fans – it creates excellent white noise and helps to drown out the frightening sounds.

Consider leaving on the television (or stereo) as well.

Even the best dog owners can make mistakes.

A few preventative steps could very well save your dog from bolting in terror.

It’s a sad fact that many dogs wind up in animal control facilities this time of year – dogs who have never even considered running away in the past.

Please be careful – don’t let your dog become a statistic.

Happy 4th of July weekend – have fun and be safe!

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