July Fourth fire­works spec­tac­u­lar for peo­ple but not for pets

RSWLiving - - Departments - BY ANN MARIE O’PHE­LAN Ann Marie O’Phe­lan is a South­west Florida res­i­dent and fre­quent con­trib­u­tor.

The bang, boom and crackle of col­or­ful fire­works that can­vas the skies on July Fourth are things that most peo­ple look for­ward to. How­ever, for pets the day is of­ten dread­ful. Dogs, cats and even pocket pets such as ham­sters, ger­bils and guinea pigs find the loud noises alarm­ing, un­nerv­ing and hair-rais­ing.

Their ad­verse re­ac­tion to all the hoopla is partly be­cause of the fact that they do not know why such loud noises are sud­denly oc­cur­ring. And it is also be­cause the loud sounds hurt their ears—a fact that is es­pe­cially true for dogs. Dogs are ca­pa­ble of per­ceiv­ing fre­quen­cies nearly twice that of hu­mans, and they can also dis­tin­guish sounds four times as well as hu­mans. Thus sounds are fur­ther am­pli­fied.

In­de­pen­dence Day is, of course, a pop­u­lar hol­i­day in the United States. In fact, ac­cord­ing to the Amer­i­can Py­rotech­nics As­so­ci­a­tion, roughly 14,000 fire­works dis­plays light up the sky across the coun­try dur­ing ev­ery July Fourth. Un­for­tu­nately, the day is also a pop­u­lar one at the na­tion’s an­i­mal shel­ters. July, in par­tic­u­lar, is known as a busy month for shel­ters be­cause pets of­ten es­cape or try to run away from the noise of fire­works. Sadly, when they run they some­times end up injured or lost. Fur­ther­more, be­cause of their in­nate flight re­sponse, beloved pets do not al­ways come back when called.

“Pets who are run­ning in fear may not re­spond to mom or dad’s calls. Or they may be hid­ing or have even run so far that they don’t hear the calls,” ex­plains Jen­nifer Gal­loway, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Gulf Coast Hu­mane So­ci­ety in Fort My­ers.

Luck­ily, there are steps that one can take to help al­le­vi­ate the fears of pets. “First of all, it’s best to keep pets safely in­side when there will be loud noises,” says Ria Brown, the public in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cer for Lee County Do­mes­tic An­i­mal Ser­vices in Fort My­ers. Brown notes that pets will be more com­fort­able and com­forted if they feel se­cure in­side and are not so sub­jected to the loud noises.

Dogs can be fur­ther soothed with blan­kets or by wear­ing a Thun­derShirt, which is a shirt that wraps around a dog (or cat) and ap­plies gen­tle pres­sure to pro­vide re­lief from anx­i­ety and fears. Other over-the-counter ideas in­clude Pet Rem­edy or D.A.P. Dog Ap­peas­ing Pheromone—both nat­u­ral calm­ing aids. Also avail­able are Mutt Muffs, which of­fer hear­ing pro­tec­tion for dogs. Vet­eri­nar­i­ans may be able to pre­scribe a calm­ing med­i­ca­tion if the pet’s fears and anx­i­eties are ex­treme.

“Pet own­ers can also leave the radio or tele­vi­sion on a sooth­ing chan­nel that can help mask the noise of the fire­works,” adds Gal­loway.

One other im­por­tant step is to re­frain from walk­ing pets— ei­ther be­fore or af­ter the fes­tiv­i­ties—as they can some­times slip through their col­lars or pull the leash away and then run off.

When it comes to keep­ing pets safe, it is al­ways best to plan ahead. Col­lars should have an up-to-date ID tag, and mi­crochip­ping is also highly suggested. Also, it is im­por­tant to have re­cent pet pho­tos avail­able so that lost pet fly­ers can be eas­ily made and dis­trib­uted.

Ac­cord­ing to the Amer­i­can So­ci­ety for the Preven­tion of Cru­elty

to An­i­mals, more than half of lost an­i­mals are re­cov­ered through some kind of ac­tion taken by their own­ers. If a pet gets lost, own­ers should check the im­me­di­ate area where the pet was first miss­ing, dis­trib­ute fly­ers and call lo­cal an­i­mal shel­ters—many of which post on­line pic­tures and de­scrip­tions of lost pets.

The ASPCA of­fers a free app to as­sist with lost pets, fea­tur­ing a pet re­cov­ery kit and lost pet dig­i­tal flyer. Down­load the app at:­eral-pet-care/aspca-mo­bile-app.

Al­though July Fourth fire­works shows must go on, with care­ful plan­ning and con­sid­er­a­tion the day can turn out to be a blast for all.

Dogs' hear­ing is quite sen­si­tive, thus they are es­pe­cially prone to loud noises such as fire­works dis­plays. Dough­boy (below) found a for­ever home, thanks to the Gulf Coast Hu­mane So­ci­ety.

Cats also can be af­fected by loud noises, so it is best to keep all pets in­side dur­ing fes­tiv­i­ties. Myra (top left) awaits adop­tion at the Gulf Coast Hu­mane So­ci­ety. At a re­cent GCHS Na­tional Walk Your Dog Day (top right), vol­un­teers and staff jogged with shel­ter dogs on Martin Luther King Jr. Boule­vard in Fort My­ers. GCHS ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Jen­nifer Gal­loway (right) sits with her dogs Zeke, Wil and Acheron.

Fort My­ers–based Lee County Do­mes­tic An­i­mal Ser­vices of­fers pet adop­tions, spay and neuter ser­vices, pet li­cens­ing, train­ing and more.

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