Humane Society says fireworks no fun for pets

Thursday, July 1, 2004

Firecrackers and sparklers may make the Fourth of July fun for children, but they're agony for pets.

The Humane Society of Southeast Missouri cautions pet owners to keep their animals safe and well away from fireworks.

"A startled dog or cat may hide or try to escape the noise by digging under, chewing through or climbing over fences," said Samantha Leavitt of the Humane Society in St. Louis.

The Humane Society recommends that all pets wear tags and collars, or be microchipped, in case a frightened pet becomes disoriented and runs away from home. During the next few days when fireworks are being shot off, pet owners are advised to keep their dogs and cats inside, confined with their favorite toys to a room without windows or a room with a radio or television masking the explosions of the fireworks outside. Pets' hearing is more sensitive than that of humans, and as pets age their hearing becomes even more sensitive, the Humane Society says.

As much fun as July Fourth celebrations are, the family dog will not enjoy being brought to an event where there will be a commercial fireworks display. The loud noises could frighten him and increase the chance of his being lost in an unfamiliar area.

"If you must take your dog out during this time," Leavitt said, "keep it on a short, secure leash at all times."

Especially don't leave your pet unattended in a parked car. The heat inside a car can climb to more than 100 degrees in minutes causing dehydration, heat stroke or death.

Leavitt advises that during the Fourth of July weekend pets not run loose or remain unattended in the back yard. A stray bottle rocket, even though they're not allowed in the city limits, could frighten or injure the pet. Owners are advised to bring the animals inside.

"Don't confine a fearful dog on a chain or in a small area, such as a crate," she said. "That could actually increase his panic."

In extreme cases for fearful animals, Leavitt advises pet owners to check with their veterinarians about administering a tranquilizer.

And don't punish the pet if it misbehaves because of the loud noises, Leavitt said. It will make the animal only more afraid.

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