Monday, July 5, 2010

Keep pets inside during firework shows

Pet owners should keep their animals inside during the fireworks displays because the loud explosions can really spook pets.

Animal welfare officials said pets that are left outside and unattended often run away over the Fourth of July holiday. Animal welfare's Capt.

Albert Marquez said the division gets more stray animal calls and barking dog complaints on July 4 than almost any other night of the year.

Fear of loud sounds - fireworks, thunder, gunshot - are called noise phobias. For a pet affected by loud noises, this is a terrifying and uncomfortable time; both for the pet and the people. Your pet cannot control their reaction to loud noises.

Commonly seen signs of noise phobias include:
  • Shaking, trembling
  • Excessive drooling
  • Barking, howling
  • Trying to hide or get into / out of the house, fence, or other enclosure
  • Refusing to eat food
  • Some animals may loose bladder or bowel control or experience temporary diarrhea from prolonged stress

Some pets will even break windows or check carpet/couches in reaction to their noise phobias.

Here are some ways to help your pet through the firework displays:

* Keep pets home It may be tempting to bring along your dog(s) so everyone can enjoy the fun, but the loud noises aren't usually fun for pets. Plus, there are many other hazards - fire, food (dietary indiscretion), getting lost in the confusion, etc. that make staying home in a comfortable safe environment a good choice.
* Keep pets indoors if possible It is advisable to close the curtains and turn on the TV or radio to provide some distraction. Calming or classical music are better than some TV or radio noise choices. Therapeutic music such as Through A Dog's Ear often work better at keeping your dog calm and providing an audio distraction.
* Provide a safe "escape" place Many times pets will seek out a small den-like place (such as a crate), if they are fearful or stressed. If you do not already have a crate, bed or similar place that your pet can call his "own," it is recommended to create that safe place and familiarize your pet with it before needed, as a means of reducing stress during fireworks and thunderstorms.
* Use a leash or carrier If you must be outside with your pet, keep the pet on a leash or in carrier at all times.
* Practice fire safety Keep pet away from matches, lighter fuel, open fires, and fireworks - especially ones that are lighted on the ground. Pets may try to sniff (or eat) fireworks, and pet hair can easily catch fire if too close to the fireworks.
* Take pet for a walk first If possible, make sure that you pet has time to "use the restroom" before the fireworks start. Some pets are too frightened to void once the fireworks begin, and this may lead to an "accident" later on.
* Make sure pet ID is current Make sure that your pet has proper identification tags, with current information, in case s/he gets away. This will help the local authorities (who are quite busy this time of year handling frightened runaways).

When it comes to updating your pet's ID, it can be really important, especially if your dog has phobias in general that could lead them to running away.

In one particular case, Beth Sims, an Albuquerque resident, is looking for an 8-year-old Pomeranian named Lady. Lady went missing after getting frightened at her first adoption clinic on July 3 at PetsMart on Academy Road, just east of Wyoming Boulevard. When she pulled away, she left her collar and tags behind. Sims is worried about Lady's safety because of all the fireworks shows on July 4.

Lady was last seen crossing Academy Road and scampering into the Albuquerque Academy campus. Sims hopes someone might have picked her up on Harper Avenue that day. Luckily, Lady is microchipped. Lady has a lion cut now, so she does not look as fluffy as the picture provided.

"Lady lived the first eight years of her life in a cage and has been in the NM [Animal Friends'] foster care system for the last three months," said Sims. "Lady was rescued by NM Animal Friends along with several other dogs who had been used for breeding at the puppy mill. She is unfamiliar with life in the wide world and must be very frightened and confused if she is still wandering."


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