NorthStar Pet: Pet Owner Summer Street Smarts: Fireworks - Playing It at 11

Just a reminder as Independence Day Fireworks are but hours away.

Dogs and cats hear exponentially more than we do - not only volume, but frequencies we can't hear. 

Some pets could care less and for others it is pain and fear beyond belief.

They will gain the strength of 50 football players, contort their bodies in ways you can't begin imagine, squeeze through small spaces, dig under fences, and find anyway they can to escape the loud noises. Electronic containment will not stop a dog from fleeing from fireworks if they are in flight mode.

In addition, and this especially applies to neighborhood fireworks because they are so unexpected, fireworks can have a traumatic effect on veterans with PTSD.

You know your pet. And, they will often take their cues from you - if you aren't bothered by the loud noises, sometimes that's all they need. And, in spite of the day's distractions, be able to recognize when your dog or cat is becoming uncomfortable.

Always Prepare: 

1. Leave your pets at home. Don't take them to parades or fireworks. No... really... don't.

2. Keep pets safely indoors in a quiet place. If you have a dog or cat who gets upset about fireworks and loud noises, don't let them have the run of the house, keep them enclosed in their crate, their favorite secure safe place (I have a friend whose dog goes and sits in the bathtub during thunderstorms and fireworks), or in a quiet room. Close curtains and blinds and create white noise or sound therapy via tv, radio, MP3, CD, or by running fans (including the exhaust fan above your stove).

There are special dog and cat-oriented sound CD's you can purchase or download from Through a Dog's Ear and Through a Cat's Ear. There are also free and really excellent long playing music videos on youtube. Some are animal specific (just search, they'll come right up) and I can recommend two that are especially calming:

Shamanic Flute and Drum Music. This plays for two hours and is tremendously calming to both cats and dogs (and humans for that matter!).

Nature Sounds and Music. This plays for eight hours and is also calming to dogs and cats.

3. Don't leave pets unattended outside at all. As a matter of fact, keep them leashed, even when they are in the yard. If your dog uses a dog door, make sure it is locked shut. Maintain a constant awareness as you open and close doors (sliding or hinged) and move from indoors to out.

Don't leave your dog in a vehicle.

4. Stay home with your pet (or have a trustworthy, undistracted family member or pet care professional stay with your dog or cat).

5. Talk with your veterinarian - if your pet is seriously stressed the vet may recommend medication or you can plan ahead and try a calming supplement such as Bach Rescue Remedy (locally, Raisin Rack carries Rescue Remedy and Bach products) or Spirit Essences. Thunder Shirts and Anxiety Wraps are results not typical for success; it just depends on the pet.

6. Exercise your pets throughout the day. Take your dogs on super long walks (be mindful of heat (cool a dog from beneath), bring water with you), keep them in forward motion (if your dog is used to a treadmill, that works great!), and keep them playing and busy and distracted - a tired dog, that's burned off energy through exercise, has none to burn being concerned about fireworks and will more than likely sleep through the fireworks or be unconcerned.

7. Even if they are going to be indoors, why take the chance - get an I.D. tag for your dog or cat (in addition to the license tag) that includes your name, address, and contact info - nowadays you can pop into places like Pet Supplies Plus and make a tag in minutes - and put a collar with the tags on your pet. If your pet has a chip - make sure your contact information is current and still use the tags as backup I.D.

The Franklin County Animal Shelter picks up more lost dogs July 4th week than any other time of the year. Heartbreaking. All lost dogs in Franklin County go to the shelter (4340 Tamarack Blvd - it's right off Morse Road next to Menard's - 614.525.3647). A huge percentage of licensed dogs in Franklin County are reclaimed. Know it's there, but why put yourself and your dog through that.

While I hope you never have to reach out to these resources - PetFBI Central Ohio and Nextdoor for your neighborhood are excellent go-to's.

Have a safe, happy, pet-friendly Red, White, and Bark!! Happy Birthday, America!