While Americans happily celebrate the birthplace of our nation on the Fourth of July, many pets do not feel the same excitement.
Between July 4 and July 6, 30 percent more pets are lost than any other time of year. It’s a holiday that many local rescues and shelters dread because of the massive intake they receive from runaways. The increase in fireworks often scares pets enough to flee in terror, and sometimes they never return home or reunite with their original owners.
To combat these unfortunate outcomes, the Arizona Animal Welfare League has put together a list of simple precautions to avoid a lost and endangered pet. Here are a few expert measures that owners can take to alleviate pet anxiety on America’s birthday.
Exercise Pets Ahead of Time
Exercise will help dwindle a pet’s possible anxiety by the time the fireworks start. Pet owners should research when their neighborhood will have Independence Day events and exercise hours beforehand, not at the moment of. Depending on the pet’s age, experts recommend giving them 20 to 40 minutes of exercise to be sure they are somewhat tired out by the time they hear the barrage of loud noises. Walking is enough to calm a dog down, and cats could benefit from playing with a toy. However, even after a pet is tired, experts recommend keeping animals indoors. There is still a slight risk they will attempt to escape the sound and consequently, their home.
Keep Them Secure
Pets are lost when they run from their homes in an effort to escape loud fireworks. It’s important to keep pets inside as much as possible on the Fourth of July. If a dog must go outside to use the restroom, the pet owner should escort them on a leash. Cats who usually wander from indoor to outdoor shouldn’t be allowed to wander on their own on this night, either. Instead, pets should be given a special spot where they feel comfortable. Owners should nurture whatever toys or habits tend to relax them. Even offering a place to hide could help them feel more secure so that they don’t run away. Gates and surrounding fences should also be checked ahead of time to be sure there are no escape routes.
Pet owners need to be sure IDs and microchips are updated before this holiday in the case that something does happen. A microchip will help locate a lost pet and is extremely useful in finding them. If an ID has old or incorrect information, then people who find a lost dog on the street will not know how to contact the owner. This is an important step to ensure safe return.
The noise, not the bright blast, is what results in so many pets being lost during Independence Day. To minimize the sound of fireworks, pet owners can utilize white noise like a fan or white noise machine. A TV or radio can also drown out the sound of fireworks. YouTube carries videos specifically designed for dogs that include soothing sounds and songs, but pet owners should choose what their pet prefers to listen to.
Shelters like the Arizona Animal Welfare League experience a drastic increase in lost cats and dogs every Independence Day. However, by taking these mentioned precautions, pet owners across Arizona can ensure pet safety and limit the burden to local shelters.
Here are printable PDF tips for cats and dogs from AAWL. For resources and more information, please visit the Arizona Animal Welfare League at aawl.org
By Alessandra Navidad, CEO & President of AAWL. Alessandra lives in South Phoenix with her husband, Alex and their four kids.