K-State vet shares tips for keeping pets safe during 4th of July celebrations

Keeping pets safe during fireworks
Keeping pets safe during fireworks(WTAP)
Published: Jul. 2, 2020 at 2:15 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A Kansas State University veterinarian is sharing tips on how to make the 4th of July holiday safer and more enjoyable for pets.

“This holiday is often a time filled with fear and anxiety for some pets — and it can also be a dangerous time for them as well,” says Susan Nelson, clinical professor at the K-State Veterinary Health Center, a part of the College of Veterinary Medicine.

Nelson says pets should stay indoors for the most part and on a leash when needed to be taken outside.

“The sound of fireworks can make some pets run off in an attempt to get away from the noise,” says Nelson. “In fact, this is the time of year with the highest incidence of runaway pets, so be sure to keep them secure.”

She says pets are also at risk of getting hit by cars due to the fear of fireworks making them less observant of oncoming traffic and recommends making sure pets have an ID like a tag or microchip in case it should get lost. Ideally, she says, pets would have both.

Besides keeping them safe from traffic and getting lost, Nelson says keeping pets indoors keeps them safe from people looking to harm them with fireworks.

“Many dogs will appreciate being in the safe confines of their crate and will do fine if allowed to stay there,” Nelson said. “A secure room may also work as well. Be sure to close the blinds or use heavy curtains to block out the flashes of light.”

Nelson suggests the following to keep pets calm during loud celebrations:

  • Play soothing music or turn on the TV or white noise machine in an attempt to block out the loud crackles and booms.
  • Trying anxiety wraps specially made for pets may help calm those with mild anxiety.
  • Using over-the-counter medications made for anxious pets may benefit those with mild to moderate noise anxiety.
  • Consider temporarily relocating your pet to a quieter friend/relative’s house or kennel during this time.
  • Talk to your veterinarian about prescription anti-anxiety medications if your pet has a severe noise phobia. Have the medication ready to give on the first day that fireworks are allowed to begin in your community.

Nelson says that just like young children it is important to keep dangerous items out of reach of pets and not apply products on them that aren’t labeled for safe use.

“These include lighters, punks, matches, lighter fluid, glow jewelry, citronella candles/oils, insect coils and repellants and fireworks, both unlit and lit,” Nelson said.

She says even if dogs are not bothered by fireworks they are still subject to being burned or injured by them if pets get too close or attempt to retrieve a firework that has been ignited. Nelson warns that many fireworks contain toxic chemicals if ingested.

According to the veterinarian, insect repellants should also not be used on pets.

“Mosquitoes are often out in force this time of year, but don’t be tempted to spray your pet with insect repellants that contain DEET as it is toxic for them,” she said. “Only apply insect repellants that state they are safe to use on pets.”

Human foods and drinks also can be dangerous, she says.

“Pets often experience vomiting and/or diarrhea when given foods they are not used to eating,” Nelson said. “And some foods, such as chocolate, macadamia nuts, onions, grapes or raisins, coffee, salt and yeast-based bread dough are all potentially toxic for your pet.”

Nelson says when ingested, fatty foods lead to life-threatening pancreatitis, and corncobs, bones and wooden barbecue skewers can cause blockages in the intestinal tract if swallowed. She says to keep any foods or candies sweetened with artificial sweeteners out of reach due to their toxicity to animals.

She says another big no-no is alcoholic beverages.

“Keep the beer and wine out of their reach,” says Nelson.

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