Do Fireworks Scare Pets?

fireworks, pets
Fireworks can frighten pets, which in turn frighten people. (Image credit: AP Photo/Robert Mecea)

Fireworks during Fourth of July celebrations can frighten pets, but it's their startling reactions that are more alarming for pet owners. Panicked dogs, for example, have been known to jump through doors and tear through window screens. A couple years back in the UK, a prize dog named Skerry leaped over an 8-foot fence and was hit by a passing car after hearing fireworks go off.

Purdue University veterinarian Lorriane Corriveau says there are ways to avoid reactions from pets that can cause injury to themselves or others.

"Owners need to use common sense when letting their pet join in the festivities," says Corriveau, "Some dogs love to chase those spinning and swirling objects on the ground. Others are traumatized by loud noises. Owners can help with tricks that can be as simple as putting cotton in their pet's ears to muffle the sound."

Corriveau offers these other tips for keeping pets safe during the holiday:

1) Never leave pets alone outdoors, even if tethered or in a fenced yard. Dogs, especially, may escape and become lost or injure themselves by chewing or choking on their leashes. Keep small pets sheltered indoors and horses in their stalls.

2) Put them inside an inner room in the house if possible and make sure all sharp objects are removed from the enclosure.

3) Turn on the radio or TV for distraction.

4) Do not take a pet to fireworks shows.

5) Do not leave a pet in a car unattended.

6) Keep pet on a leash or in a carrier if they must be outside.

7) Protect animals from children who may not realize that waving sparklers or setting off "safe" firecrackers could upset a family pet.

8) Keep I.D. tags current so the pet and owner can be reunited if loud noises cause it to run away.

9) Sedate horses and some dogs if needed. Noise phobia can get worse as a pet ages. A veterinarian can advise about giving the pet a mild sedative or tranquilizer to calm the fears of an extremely stressed dog, cat or horse.

10) Pick up leftover sparklers and other sharp objects when the night of festivities is over.

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