Newswise — MANHATTAN, Kansas — You may be looking forward to the fireworks this Fourth of July, but chances are your pet is dreading it, says a Kansas State University veterinarian.
"Fourth of July tends to be a fun holiday for people, but not so fun for our pets," said Susan Nelson, clinical associate professor in clinical sciences at the university's Veterinary Health Center. "Many pets are very scared of the loud noises and flashes from the fireworks."
If your dog or cat flees from the loud noises, Nelson has some suggestions on how to soothe their fears:
• Pull the blinds.
• Run a white noise machine or turn up the TV to drown out the noise of the firecrackers.
• Keep the dog in its carrier, crate or a dark room.
• Consider taking the pet to a relative or friend who lives in an area with no fireworks.
• Use an antianxiety wrap to help lessen the dog's anxiety.
• Consult with your veterinarian about medication to calm your pet and test the medicine first before the holiday to make sure your dog does not have any adverse reactions to it.
Nelson recommends keeping your pet indoors for its own safety.
"This season has the highest incidence for pets running away," Nelson said. "They're also more likely to get hit by a car because they're so frightened and they're not paying attention to what's going on around them."
Even if your pet doesn't fear fireworks, Nelson says indoors is the best place for your pooch on the Fourth of July. Some brave dogs will attempt to retrieve the lit fireworks, causing damage to their mouths. And there are other dangers to dogs that you may overlook.
"They can get burns on their feet from stepping on hot things," Nelson said. "Citronella candles have oil that can be toxic to animals if they get it on their paws and lick it off. Human insect repellants are not formulated for pets, so spraying the repellant on your animal could produce a dangerous reaction."
Nelson says dogs with firework phobias often have thunderstorm phobias as well — and they often don't develop the phobia until they are older.
"Younger dogs don't usually have noise phobias," Nelson said. "A lot of these noise phobias develop as they mature and get a little bit older, so you may not have noticed this in your dog when it was younger. As they're approaching middle-age and older, that is often when the phobias develop."
While you may want to share some leftovers with your dog, Nelson warns that Fourth of July food can be harmful to pets. These foods are often higher in fat and could lead to pancreatitis. Dogs that get a hold of chicken or rib bones or the cob from corn could require surgery to remove it. Wooden skewers that are used for barbecuing can puncture the gastrointestinal tract of your pet if consumed.
In fact, Nelson said you may be surprised what dogs can get their paws on if it smells like food.
"One summer, I had a dog that ate the metal scouring pad that was used to clean off the grill because it contained all the flavorings from the chicken," Nelson said. "The dog did require an emergency surgery to remove the clumps of metal bristles from its intestinal tract."
Additionally, alcoholic beverages of any kind should never be given to your pet.
For more information, contact the Kansas State University Veterinary Health Center at 785-532-5690.