Celebrating the birthday of our great nation on July 4th is one of the highlights of summer. Festivities often include gatherings with family and friends, barbecues, and parades. At the end of the fun-filled day, fireworks light up the night sky while spectators “ooh” and “aah” over brilliant bursts of light. But along with the magic comes a high price for many of our pets and wildlife. The loud noises that come from fireworks can cause a cascade of negative effects.
Animals have heightened senses, including impeccable hearing. Dogs, for instance, can hear frequencies between 40 Hz and approximately 60,000 Hz. Cats can detect frequencies from 55 Hz to 79,000 Hz, with hearing even more sensitive than a dog’s. Humans can hear between 20 Hz and 20,000 Hz, approximately less than half as well as most animals. The sounds of fireworks often exceed 150 decibels and can reach as high as 175 decibels. When one considers these facts from the perspective of animals, it’s understandable why the bright flashing lights and sounds from fireworks often produce a fight or flight response.
An array of medications exist that can help reduce your pet’s anxiety during times of stress. It’s imperative that you consult with your veterinarian to determine which medication is best suited for your pet. Any supplement or over-the-counter medication should be discussed with your veterinarian prior to use.
Apparel such as ThunderShirts—which applies a gentle, constant pressure on a dog’s or cat’s torso—does appear to work on some but not all pets. If you want to try such apparel, be sure to try it on before any stress-inducing event. If your pet responds with agitation, this may not be the right solution for you.
If your pet will tolerate them, specially designed ear muffs for dogs like Muttmuffs have been known to reduce stress from noise.
Always bring your pets inside before the fireworks begin. Pets left outside may run to try to get away from the loud noises and flashing lights, which can lead to injuries and even death. Fireworks are the cause of a high volume of pet injuries at veterinary hospitals every year. Pets left outside may attempt to climb over or dig under walls or fences. This can result in sprained or broken limbs, damage to eyes, scrapes or puncture wounds, and even worse, being hit by a car. During the 4th of July holiday, animal control officers and animal shelters tend to become overwhelmed with the number of lost dogs.
With your pets safely inside, consider closing the blinds or shades, turning on the lights, and playing soft music. Love and reassurance are always the best approach.
And be sure your pet is microchipped. All pets have the potential of becoming lost at any time. Placing a microchip (the size of a grain of rice) between the shoulder blades of your pet allows all shelters and animal hospitals to read the microchip with a special, non-threatening wand scanner. When the wand is passed over the pet’s skin, the implanted microchip emits a radio frequency signal that reads the microchip’s unique ID code. The microchip registry is called, and the registry company uses the ID number to retrieve the pet parent’s contact information from the pet recovery database. Remember to update the contact information should you move or change your phone number and/or email address. Palm Springs Animal Hospital now offers high-tech microchips that read a pet’s body temperature in addition to storing your contact information.
Be informed to be better prepared. Check your local community’s events calendar so you know when to expect fireworks in your area.
We all look forward to the 4th of July, so take a few precautions to make it enjoyable for your pets as well!