Tips for Keeping Pets Safe on July 4th

While Fourth of July can be a fun holiday filled with cookouts and fireworks, it is potentially frightening for our furry friends.

The patriotic holiday often comes with fireworks, and those loud noises can be especially anxiety-inducing for pets, said Angela Prodrick, community outreach and volunteer director with the Blue Ridge Humane Society.

She suggests people leave animal companions at home, and not to bring them to cookouts, picnics or firework-filled festivities.

“They are safer and happier at home,” she added.

When they are outside, the intensified loud noises can scare them more, Prodrick explained. Pets should be kept in a dark, quiet and comfortable place.

If you’re not staying at home with the pet, Prodrick recommends leaving something around with your scent to help make the animal feel more secure.

Leaving a television or radio on can also provide some comfort.

“The sounds will mask some of the fireworks and help to soothe them,” Prodrick said.

If your pet is particularly prone to anxiety, it’s good to exercise them during the day so they will tire by the evening.

Owners can also keep pets busy. Prodrick suggests giving felines cat nip and dogs cone toys with their favorite treat or food inside. Frozen snacks will also help keep them occupied.

As for day events, if pets do tag along, owners should take several precautions.

Heat exhaustion is a large concern. As people are preoccupied, it can be easier for animals to go into heat exhaustion without someone noticing right away, Prodrick said. Excessive panting, drooling and slight slouching are all warning signs an animal is overheated.

“Even the best-behaved dog can get in sticky situations, especially when everyone else is having fun and not paying close attention,” Prodrick said.

Animals should be left in the shade and given plenty of water. They should also be kept away from non-pet food and drinks that are typically found at cookouts and picnics, Prodrick said, as they can be harmful to the animal. They should also be kept away from the grilling area.

Pets should be properly identified through tags and microchips. Prodrick encourages owners to make sure the information is all up to date, as it will make the reunification process easier if a pet runs away.

Animal Control typically picks up more pets than usual around the holiday, Prodrick said, and they are taken to the animal shelter. If a pet goes missing, owners are encouraged to check the shelter daily for their pets, as a lost and scared pet may take a while to be picked up.

Fliers are an old-fashioned way to locate a lost dog, but do work, Prodrick said. Owners should also file a lost pet report. If someone locates an animal, they should file a found animal report.

WTZQ does a good job of providing information to the public about lost pets, Prodrick said. Postings are also placed on various social media outlets, including the Blue Ridge Humane Society-Lost and Found Pet Spotters page on Facebook.

Owners need to make sure to secure screen doors, close windows and make sure there are no gaps in fences, Prodrick said.

The main goal is to make sure the pet does not run away, and is as safe and comfortable inside their home as possible, she added.

Reach Rebecca Walter at rebecca.walter@blueridgenow.com