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Beware of pet's behavior during fireworks display

Submitted

Fourth of July fireworks can frighten pets, and that fear can cause your dog or cat to panic and try to escape the confines of your yard or house. The pet behavior experts at the Atlanta Human Society recommended you do the following to keep your pet safe on the 4th of July:

n Keep your pet indoors in a quiet and isolated room with covered windows, to help them feel safe and secure.

n Turn on a fan along with a radio or television to muffle the sound of the fireworks. It provides familiar indoor sounds and may help soothe them.

n Do not take your pet to a fireworks display. Large crowds and noise might frighten them.

n If your pet behaves nervously by pacing, whining or crying, distract it by playing with the pet or doing something they enjoy. It is best to allow your pet to be with you if it wants to, but avoid coddling it.

n Consult with your vet about prescription or alternative remedies to calm your pet.

n Sometimes, pacing pets get static shocks from carpeting, so they tend to seek out bare floors. Allow your pet access to a safe area with no carpeting. If you use a crate, it is best not to lock your dog in it. Place the crate in the "safe area" and leave the crate door open. You can get a pretty good idea of how your pet will react to fireworks by watching how it reacts to other loud noises. Prepare ahead of time to minimize discomfort.

There is also a method of reducing the fireworks stress in pets called desensitization. This involves playing records of fireworks sounds in your home prior to your pet's exposure to the noises on July 4th.

Make sure your pet always wears an appropriately fitted collar. If your pet is a dog, you should be able to slip no more than two fingers beneath the collar. If your pet is a cat, it should be wearing a stretch or safety collar. Your pet should always wear an identification tag with your current phone number and address, as well as a current license/rabies tag. All animals should be micro-chipped. This can be done at a reduced rate at the Atlanta Human Society Clinic.

If your pet does escape from your house or yard due to stress from fireworks and you are unable to locate your pet, it is important that you visit the Atlanta Humane Society and other are animal shelters as soon as possible to look for it. You can find addresses and phone numbers of municipal shelters listed in the front section of the "White Pages" telephone book. At each shelter, provide a photo and specific description of your pet. These steps will greatly increase your chances of finding your animal friend.

Contact the Atlanta Humane Society Education Department at (404) 875-5331 ext 261 for more details.