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Fireworks, Heat Can Lead To Stressful Day For Pets

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Lake Michigan Fireworks

(credit: JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty Images)

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CHICAGO (STMW) – With record-high temperatures expected throughout the area Wednesday, as well as the usual displays — official and improvised — of fireworks to celebrate Independence Day, this could be a doubly stressful day for pets.

The Humane Society of the United States encourages pet owners to take extra precautions to keep their pets safe this holiday.

For many pets, the noise and commotion of parades and fireworks displays can be overwhelming, the Humane Society says. In fact, so many pets become frightened and try to flee the sights and sounds that animal shelters around the nation report a dramatic increase in lost pets during the holiday, according to a release from the Humane Society.

“The loud fireworks and large gatherings of people at public Fourth of July festivities can be stressful for your pets,” Inga Fricke, The HSUS’ director of sheltering and pet care issues, said. “It’s best to enjoy the Independence Day holiday by ensuring that your furry friends are safe at home.”

To ensure your pets stay safe this Independence Day holiday, the Humane Society offers some tips.

Keep all pets safely confined indoors on the 4th, when people may be setting off fireworks. There are many family and group activities that are perfect for pets, but a public fireworks display or any other type of gathering where fireworks will be set off usually isn’t one of them, the Humane Society says. It’s best to leave your pets safely indoors, preferably with a radio or TV on to dampen jarring noises. Pets usually kept outdoors should be brought inside as an extra measure of safety. And if you do take your pet with you to an Independence Day event, keep them leashed and under your direct control at all times.

Consult your veterinarian if your pet is distressed by loud noises like fireworks displays. Your veterinarian may be able to recommend medications and techniques to help alleviate your pet’s fear and anxiety. There are also tips for helping your dog cope with loud noises like thunder and fireworks at the Humane Society’s website: humanesociety.org/dogs_loud_noises.

When you take your pet to an Independence Day celebration or keep it inside for the holiday, make sure that they are wearing a collar and identification tag with current contact information so you can be reunited quickly if your pet does escape. All pets, even those kept indoors full-time, should wear collars with identification tags at all times, the Humane Society says. Indoor-only animals can become so frightened during fireworks displays that they take desperate measures to escape the noise, such as breaking through window or door screens. As an extra precaution, it’s a good idea to have your pet microchipped, with your current contact information registered with the chip company. If your pet does become lost, contact your local animal control and surrounding shelters immediately.

With temperatures hovering near 100 degrees through the rest of the week, it’s especially important to remember to never leave your pet in a parked car. On a warm day, temperatures inside a vehicle can rise to dangerous levels within minutes. On an 85-degree day, for example, the temperature inside a car even with the windows cracked open can reach 102 degrees within just 10 minutes; after 30 minutes the temperature will reach 120 degrees.

Additionally, the Humane Society says that during a heatwave, pet owners shouldn’t rely on fans to keep their dogs and cats cool. Pets respond differently to heat than humans do. (Dogs, for instance, sweat primarily through their feet.) And fans don’t cool off pets as effectively as they do people.

Also, pets need to be provided with ample shade and water in these hot days. Any time your pet is outside, make sure he or she has protection from heat and sun and plenty of fresh, cold water. In heat waves, add ice to water when possible. Tree shade and tarps are ideal because they don’t obstruct air flow. And doghouses? The Humane Society says doghouses do not provide relief from heat — in fact, it makes it worse.

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