Information for Kansas City residents follows this article.
According to the Humane Society of the United States, the July Fourth holiday period is a busy one for animal shelters, as these facilities see an increased number of lost dogs. Veterinarians and after-hours animal emergency hospitals also see more activity at this time.
The chief problem? Fireworks.
Dogs react to fireworks in different ways. Some absolutely don’t care about them. Others fly into a panic at the first flash or pop. And then there are those that think sparklers and cones and spinning, whirring explosives look like tremendous things to play with.
Dogs that panic will do anything to escape the noise. They’ve been known to break out of kennels, chew on crates, leap out of windows and dig under fences.
Fireworks-related anxiety may even lead to gastric dilatation-volvulus—commonly called “bloat”—in a large- or giant-breed dog. The stomach twists, quickly leading to death without prompt medical treatment. Sometimes death occurs even with the best medical care.
On the other hand, the dog that eyes fireworks as toys is likely to suffer burns if it gets too close once the wicks are lit. Or if the dog grabs one in the air, serious damage to the mouth or internal organs can occur.
Here are some ways to keep your dog safe from fireworks issues during the Fourth.
- Watch for signs of anxiety. These include trembling, excessive barking or panting, howling and a strong desire to “break free.”
- If your dog is prone to panic and you can’t be inside with it, it must stay indoors. Confine the dog to a closed room—preferably also in a crate if the dog is crate-trained. Keep the windows shut, the shades drawn, the light on and a radio or TV playing. Anti-anxiety medications should only be given under a vet’s direction. Do not leave the dog outside, as it may try to escape.
- Another reason to keep the dog inside: Fireworks don’t know property lines. Be wary of what your neighbors are doing. You don’t need a hot explosive landing on your pet from the fireworks display next door.
- Put your dog on a short leash and keep it away from explosives if it will be hanging out with the family fireworks crew.
- Make sure your dog is wearing current identification tags should it get loose despite your best efforts. Remember to never crate a dog wearing a collar and tags unless the collar has a breakaway mechanism.
- Don’t take your dog to a fireworks display and then leave it in a car. It only takes minutes before a car’s internal temperatures rise high enough to cause severe health issues or even death. Cracking the windows does little to help.
- The next morning, carefully inspect your yard for fireworks debris. Leftover “parachutes,” dead bottle rockets and assorted plastic pieces look mighty inviting to a curious dog.
- Keep the phone numbers of your vet and closest after-hours animal hospital where you can find this information in a hurry.
American Animal Hospital Association – Fourth of July: Keeping pets safe and happy, Jen Reeder
Humane Society of the United States – Tips for a safe Fourth of July, June 28, 2010
American Animal Hospital Association – First aid kit checklist
Related Kansas City Dogs Examiner articles:
Canine heat stroke an avoidable summer tragedy
How to deal with the canine escape artist – part 1
Keep your dog safe this summer with these tips
Kansas City-area residents: Need to know where your closest after-hours animal emergency hospital is? Click the link below; the hospitals are entirely in bold.
Veterinary clinics and hospitals in the Kansas City metro
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