How to keep pets safe this 4th of July

This time of year everyone enjoys the sun, barbecues, sprinklers and fireworks! One member of the family who may not share your enthusiasm for things that go BOOM is your pet.

Fireworks are a very common phobia for dogs, cats and many animals are lost this time of year. In fact, July 5th marks the #1 day for lost pets in the U.S.

North Bend and Snoqualmie have standardized times for fireworks allowing for easier policing. According to the Snoqualmie and North Bend municipal codes: Fireworks may be discharged from 9 a.m. to 12 a.m. (midnight) on July 4th, but are prohibited at all other times. North Bend allows all fireworks purchased at licensed stands within city limits. In Snoqualmie the rules are a little different, some fireworks bought at legal stands and on tribal reservations are illegal within city limits. These include:

  • Aerial devices: bottle rockets, missiles and anything that goes up into the air
  • Firecrackers and explosive devices

We all know that some decide to start their celebrations a little early, so it is important to use caution even days before the holiday.

First off, it’s important to make sure your pets are properly identified through tags and microchips. Take a few minutes to check your pet’s tags to make sure they are legible and all the information is correct. Make sure the collar is in good condition and properly fitted. If your pet is micro chipped make sure the information on that chip is current and up to date.

Dogs are the most susceptible, as they tend to get scared at the sound of fireworks and run away. In the days leading up to the fourth make sure you pay attention to how your dog is behaving. Even if they seem unperturbed, its best to keep them indoors during the holiday season in a safe, escape proof room of the house with a comfy bed, food and water.

I’m fortunate to have a dog unbothered by fireworks. However, it is possible one could go off spooking her. I take pains to protect her with a leash outside and reward her lavishly whenever we hear a boom that she doesn’t react to with fear. *Boom, “YAY” from mom and lots of tasty treats.

Some people choose to sedate their pets this time of year. I did that with my last dog until my vet told me it can make pets more uncomfortable. They still feel fear, but are unable to react normally to comfort themselves. If your pet becomes so fearful they are destructive to themselves or your belongings it may be an option to explore. There are many alternatives to
prescription sedation: CBD treats, melatonin, Benadryl and Zylkene: a natural milk protein that has calming effects. Talk to your vet about these options.

Never leave a pet outside in a yard or tethered. Even if they are usually safe and calm in that situation, things flying up in the air and going BOOM can change that scenario quickly. Pets can hurt or even hang themselves trying to jump or run away from noises. Cats should be kep indoors as much as is possible.

If you happen to have an animal that is ok with fireworks, still make sure to keep your pet leashed when setting them off. Exposure to fireworks could potentially cause severe burns and/or trauma.

A curious pet may approach a pretty firework and be terribly harmed. Even unused fireworks pose a danger. A recent news story told of a Pug eating ashes from a spent sparkler that died soon after. According to the pet poison hotline :

“When unused fireworks are ingested, they are poisonous to pets. Fireworks contain hazardous chemicals such as potassium nitrate, which is an oxidizing agent. They can also contain charcoal or sulfur and coloring agents, which are potentially dangerous heavy metals. When ingested, pets can develop gastrointestinal issues like vomiting, a painful abdomen, and bloody diarrhea.

The severity of pet health issues resulting from ingestion will depend on the type of fireworks and the amount that was ingested. Pets ingesting large amounts can suffer tremors or seizures, along with acute kidney failure, bone marrow changes, shallow breathing and jaundice, which is yellowing of the skin.”

There are NO warnings on the typical fireworks box about this potential danger. Clean up all spent fireworks, check your yard, sidewalk and supervise your pets the day after the fourth.

Small outdoor animals such as birds, rabbits or guinea pigs should be brought indoors to a garage or shed if at all possible. Cover enclosures with a blanket to block out light and noise. Provide extra bedding material so the animal can burrow and feel safe. Fireworks should never be set off near livestock or horses in a field.

According to RCW  16.52.207:

In the state of Washington: “a person is guilty of animal cruelty in the second degree if, under circumstances not amounting to first degree animal cruelty, the person knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence inflicts unnecessary suffering or pain upon an animal”

Lastly, if you visit a loud crowded firework display leave your pets at home in a safe secure spot. It may be tempting to take your pet to celebrate with you but resist that temptation. Your pet will thank you for it.

Have a safe and sane Fourth of July! Woof!

[Melissa Grant is a pet trainer and owner of Miss Lola’s Academy for Wayward Dogs]

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