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Getting pets through their least favorite holiday

As many people with pets can attest, the July 4 holiday is often traumatic for pets who can have a phobic reaction to fireworks and other loud sights and sounds that are synonymous with Independence Day celebrations.

Photo courtesy of Best Friends Animal Society.

That’s why it’s best to keep pets indoors during the festivities to prevent dogs and cats from ending up injured or at a busy shelter overflowing with other lost pets. Best Friends Animal Society is offering tips that can help pet owners keep their pets safe and out of the shelters during the holiday weekend:

  • Bring all pets indoors whenever neighborhood fireworks displays are likely to occur and secure them in a quiet room. Close the windows, draw the curtains and surround them with their favorite toys and treats. It can help to play calming music or turn on the television to drown out the frightening sounds.

  • Always keep pets away from lit fireworks (including in your own backyard). Some pets will chase after the bright moving objects and are at risk of being burned or blinded in the process.

  • Fireworks also contain substances that are toxic if ingested, so be sure to keep unlit fireworks out of reach, too.

  • If your pet gets spooked and runs off, ensure they are wearing current identification tags with your current contact information. Also, make sure their microchip contact information is up to date.

“The last thing you want is an emergency over a holiday, when many veterinary clinics and shelters are closed or only open for limited hours,” said Dr. Erin Katribe, Medical Director, Best Friends Animal Society. “If you know your pets suffer from anxiety, discuss pharmaceutical options with your veterinarian in advance. Several medications to treat anxiety are available and can help your pets during these stressful holidays.”

Katribe also noted that milder anxiety may be helped with supplements, such as those containing tryptophan, or a compression- style garment, which swaddles and comforts them. It’s best to speak with a veterinarian for the best option.

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Best Friends recently released an annual data report, which gives the most accurate and comprehensive national overview of the number of dogs and cats that enter and exit shelters in a given year. The data for 2022 showed that the number of dogs and cats killed in U.S. shelters had a setback, with an increase to around 378,000 up for 355,000 in 2021. This was largely due to shelters experiencing higher intakes and lower adoptions.

By following the above safety precautions, pets can stay safe and with their families, and out of overcrowded shelters.

“I recommend that all pet owners find out the contact information of their local emergency clinic and local shelters ahead of time, so that it’s quickly within reach in those unexpected moments,” cautioned Katribe.

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