Its almost that time again that all dogs and cats hate and fear — the Fourth of July. Their hatred for this human holiday has nothing to do with being anti-American or unpatriotic. Nope. They hate the fireworks and I’m with them!
Let’s look at it from their point of view. For some unknown reason the humans living near you start setting off loud things that sound like thunder and look like lightning. The nasty things make loads of loud, obnoxious noises that scare dogs and cats. You don’t understand why the noises are happening and if they are aimed at hurting you. All you, a dog and cat, can do is cringe, hiding from the unseen yet horrible lights and sounds outside.
And what if you’re an outside dog or cat with no one to let you hide in a back room? Then you are at the mercy of the terrible sounds and dangerous lights. You could be burned by people aiming the bad things at you. Just the sounds themselves are painful as well. Just like the humans wielding the fireworks, you could be blinded or even killed!
All in all, fireworks make July 4th the worst day of the year for many pets.
So what can you do to make this otherwise festive day not so bad for the dogs and cats around you?
First off, skip the home fireworks! If you want to see fireworks go to a local display run by professionals. This way you can enjoy the spectacle in the safest way for you and your pets. Fireworks are dangerous enough for professionals. Its absolutely foolhardy to risk your body, home, life and family for a few minutes of flashy lights. And your pets will thank you.
Make sure your pets are securely locked in your home (but not in a crate) before fireworks start in your neighborhood. While I love St. Louis, July the 4th seems to transform the city into a fireworks war zone. My pack gets frantic from the constant booming, cracking and popping that goes along with the dangerous lights. Fear can cause pets to bolt in fear. Both cats and dogs are in danger of being scared from their homes. Then they are prey to bad humans, other animals or speeding cars.
So if you love them, lock them in your home and keep them on leashes when you go out during this time!
Warn you neighbors about the dangers of fireworks! I can’t tell you how many people don’t know that fireworks are terribly dangerous. I guess because it’s so easy to buy them they assume these miniature and not-so-miniature rockets are safe to use. Well, ask the thousands of people who have been blinded, lost body parts or even loved ones to fireworks.
Check your yard for exploded firework casings and unexploded casings. Even if you have the good sense not to set off fireworks, some of your neighbors may not show the same good sense. If you suspect someone may have been using fireworks near your home (or business for those of you who take your furbabies to work with you), make a point of checking the yard for exploded and unexploded fireworks. The contents are poisonous and curious dogs or cats could think they are new toys.
Take an extra look at fences for loose or open spots. Dogs and cats who would never consider escaping your yard may get scared by fireworks and bolt. The best idea is to bring them all inside and watch them closely when out in the yard but why take a chance?
Make sure you have notices on your front and back doors with the number and type of pets living in the home in case of fire. Every year, numerous homes are burned down by people playing with fireworks. You may have done the good thing and locked your furbabies in your home but if some inconsiderate person with fireworks manages to catch it on fire, firemen need to know who to look for in your home. This is especially true if you plan on being away any time during the holiday.
Here are some great suggestions from the International Association of Canine Professionals as sent out on NewsReleaseWire.com.
Dogs and Fireworks: A Top Ten Survival Guide
Montverde, FL 34756 June 25 2007
International Association of Canine Professionals provides help for Independence Day
June XX, 2007 The International Association of Canine Professionals (IACP) knows that with the upcoming Fourth of July holiday, dogs across the country will react with fear and anxiety to all the firework celebrations.
The noise of fireworks can be extremely stressful for dogs,” said Cyndy Douan, president and director of education of the International Association of Canine Professionals. The dog professionals at IACP recommend these top ten strategies to Americas dog owners, to help them through all the Fourth of July festivities.”
1. DO expose your dog to loud, unexpected noises on a regular basis, especially leading up to a long weekend where fireworks are used. Drop pot lids, toss a soda can with a few pennies in it, slam a door: anything to get your dog accustomed to being startled, so he can practice recovering quickly.
2. DO NOT bring your dog with you to a fireworks celebration.
3. DO provide your dog with a safe, comfortable place that will help her feel more secure amid the scary sights and sounds. Close the blinds to keep out the flashes of color in the sky, and turn up the television or some music to help muffle the sounds.
4. DO NOT lock your dog in a crate; a panicked, frightened dog can easily injure himself in a crate.
5. DO ask your veterinarian if an herbal remedy or prescription sedative may be appropriate for your dog.
6. DO consider giving your dog a highly valued chew toy before the fireworks celebration begins, which may help to keep her mind off the disturbance.
7. DO attach a house leash” to your dog, to act as an extra long handle, should your dog try to escape or run away.
8. DO NOT comfort or baby” your dog if he is afraid. Dogs take their cue of how to behave from their owners; if you are acting strange” by offering soothing words and gestures, your dog may interpret your actions as praise for being frightened, or a confirmation that the fireworks are truly scary.
9. DO act as normal and as matter of fact” as possible, to help your dog understand that there is nothing to worry about.
10. Most importantly, DO ensure your dog is wearing proper identification in case he manages to escape.
More dogs escape during holiday celebrations than at any other time,” said Ms. Douan. With a little preparation and an understanding of how to help dogs through their fears, dog owners can help prevent their pet from becoming a statistic this Fourth of July.”
Here’s an excellent article from WJZ.com about the dangers of fireworks:
Sparkler Burns Boy As Fireworks Warnings Go Out
(WJZ/AP) BALTIMORE With the fireworks season hitting full swing, warnings are going out across Maryland, which will almost certainly be ignored by some.
Alex DeMetrick talked to doctors who say despite constant calls for citizens to be safe while handling fireworks and to avoid illegal fireworks, some people do not get the message.
According to medical experts, fireworks injuries are especially traumatic because they are difficult to surgically repair.
“Say a finger that’s cut off with a knife or a saw, it can be pretty easily re-attached. Whereas a finger that’s been blown off with a firecracker, there’s not a lot we can do with severe injuries like that,” said Dr. Raymond Wittstadt.
Injuries from fireworks can also destroy a person’s eyes or skin.
“The sparklers burn at up to 1,800 degrees, which is hot enough to melt gold,” said pediatric ophthalmologist Dr. Mary Louise Collins. “One of the things that people don’t understand is those little sparklers can throw off little, teeny sparks that can land right on the cornea of the eye and burn the cornea.”
On Tuesday a 9-year-old Queen Anne’s County boy was flown to the Johns Hopkins Burn Center in Baltimore after he put an ignited sparkler in his pocket and his pants caught fire.
The State Fire Marshal’s office said the boy was outside of his Chester home Tuesday when he put several sparklers in his pants.
One of the sparklers was lit. The boy’s pants burst into flames, causing second-degree burns to his legs and minor burns to both of his hands.
In Maryland, fireworks come in three basic types: legal, illegal and extremely illegal.
Many counties accept ground displays if the labels say “shower” or “sparks.”
But illegal fireworks like firecrackers and roman candles, which read “flammable” are banned statewide.
“These things can kill, maim or injure,” said State Fire Marshal Tim Barnard. “They could go off soon as the fuse is lit, they may not go off at all initially and then you approach it and the thing blows up.”
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