Animal Shelters are most crowded during and after fireworks

by Loni Rahm

Dr. Mark Shelton, DVM, handles agitated pets on a daily basis. Going to the vet’s office — even a vet as calming as Dr. Shelton and his staff — can make animals anxious. He admits he’s been bit “once or twice” in his lengthy career but usually reads the pet’s anxiety level and uses a variety of methods to soothe the animal before, during and after any treatment.

During a recent visit with my overly-anxious and elderly grand dog, Hugo (receiving laser treatments in the photo above) I asked Dr. Shelton about keeping pets secure during the back to back fireworks displays (July 4th in Manson and July 6th in Chelan). As anticipated, he had some great recommendations.

First on his list was making sure your pets are microchipped and the information connected to the microchip is up to date.

Any animal, including cats, dogs, birds, bunnies, that can be brought inside during fireworks should be. In fact, any animal that can be safely contained, including chickens, goats, horses etc. should be enclosed in a protected barn or secure area as far away from noise as possible.

If pets are comfortable in a crate or kennel, put them inside with a familiar blanket or toy. Otherwise, secure them in a cool, dark room with music or a tv to provide background distraction. Cats, in particular, have extremely sensitive hearing and will hide in closets or under beds. Closing them inside a contained space will muffle some of the explosive sounds and prevent them from running. For the duration of the fireworks event, secure all windows and sliding doors — pets have been known to claw their way through screens in their frenzy to escape the noise.

Make sure they have water but withhold food which could agitate a nervous stomach.

If your pet is extremely fearful of fireworks, consider a thunder shirt or composure medication. Dr. Shelton encourages familiarizing your pet with a thunder shirt in advance. Conditioning your dog (or cat) to the calming but confined accessory may take a little getting used to and the height of a fireworks display may overwhelm your pet.

Composure medication, which generally work within 30 minutes and last up to 4 hours, can be found at veterinary offices and pet stores. Dr. Shelton’s office sells the VetriScience Pro Line of calming medication.

While there is a complete personal fireworks ban in the City of Chelan and throughout unincorporated Chelan County, the Sheriff’s office has already received numerous reports of illegal personal fireworks. If your pet is prone to running, you might consider more secure containment throughout the next several days as a precaution.

The American Veterinary Medical Association has additional information and safety tips.