9 tips to keep your pet calm and safe on July 4
The 4th of July can be a stressful time for your pets. Here are 9 tips to keep your pets safe during holiday fireworks. Arizona Republic
The Fourth of July is stressful on dogs.
Ashliegh Goebel with the Arizona Humane Society says the shelter takes in many pets who run away because fireworks scare them.
“The constant firecrackers going on on the Fourth of July can really send pets into the frightened flight mode," Goebel said, "and sometimes they get out of the yard or escape their fence.”
Even if the stray pets are found and brought to Maricopa County Animal Care and Control, public-information officer Melissa Gable said it can be impossible to contact the owners.
"Most of those dogs and cats that come to us aren’t wearing any form of identification," Gable said. "So it’s virtually impossible for us to reunite those pets with their families.”
Of the 31,210 stray or lost cats and dogs that went through the Maricopa County Animal Care and Control's Phoenix and Mesa shelters last year, only 4,243 were reunited with their families. That's less than 14 percent.
Don't lose your pet. Here are nine ways to keep your dog or cat calm and safe during the Fourth of July festivities.
1. Don't take your pet to the fireworks
“The last thing you want to do is take them with you to firework displays," Gable said.
This seems obvious, but people still do it. Not only will your pet most likely have a terrible time sitting still through all of the noise, the chances of him or her running off, even if leashed, is much greater than if the animal was safe and sound at home.
2. Make sure your pet has a microchip
Having your pet microchipped is the surest way to be reunited.
“Collars can get lost, license tags can come off, but microchips are always there," Gable said.
3. Update the chip's information
What good is a microchip if the address and phone number stored on it are out of date?
“If your pet has a microchip, a lot of owners won’t update them if they move or change their phone number," Goebel said. "They need to take care of that ahead of time.”
If your phone number or address has changed, call the number on the activation card you received when your pet was chipped. You just need to give the ID number and tell them what's changed. It's super simple.
It's a terrifying feeling as a pet owner when you can't find your best buddy. If your pet does run away or end up lost somehow in Maricopa County, here are five steps to maximize your efforts in finding your pet quickly.
4. Keep your pet indoors
Make sure your pet is indoors on the night of the Fourth and and monitor its behavior.
"If they’re starting to display distress or anxiety, it’s best to keep your pets in a quiet bedroom," Goebel said.
“A lot of people will say, ‘Oh, he’s never gotten out before. I don’t know how he did it,’ " Gable said. "But they’re going to find a way to get away from that noise, and that may be digging out from under or jumping over a fence. You just never know.”
5. Turn on the TV, radio or music
Try to drown out the fireworks noise. Turn on the television or radio. It will make the loud booms stand out less to your pet versus if the room was quiet.
6. Distract your pet through play
If that isn't working, playing with your pet is a fun way to distract him or her from the scary noises outside.
7. Offer a favorite toy or treat
Break out your dog's favorite toy. It might help comfort him or her, especially if it's something from when the dog or cat was a puppy or kitten.
Bones or treats that take a long time to chew also can be a distraction and stress reliever.
8. Keep an extra close eye on new pets
"You just don’t know what your dog is going to do, especially folks who just recently adopted a pet and have never had a Fourth of July with their animal," Gable said.
"Those are the ones I would be most concerned about, since you don’t know what their behavior (to fireworks) is.”
9. Try a ThunderShirt
A Thundershirt is a vest that reduces anxiety in some animals.
“Some dogs, and even cats, do respond very well to ThunderShirts," Goebel said. "It’s basically a safe jacket, where they can still move about but they’re a little more secure.”
The pressure the vest creates is supposed to mimic the calming feeling of swaddling a baby, so it's worth a try if your pet is especially jumpy during thunderstorms or fireworks.
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