The holiday season can be a very scary time for pets and livestock, especially during New Year’s and 4th of July, when most families are out enjoying their local fireworks shows.
This past summer, I found out just how difficult this holiday can be for animals when we discovered a stray dog roaming in our neighborhood. The dog was injured, disoriented and trying desperately to find it’s way back home.
Immediately I took the dog home, fed it and started the search for its family. After several days, mostly spent in local Facebook groups and on Craigslist, we were finally able to reunite the dog with her family.
Sadly, most shelters report that the fourth of July is their biggest lost pet day of the year. More animals go missing than on any other day of the year, in large part due to animals running off after being scared by fireworks.
Here in South Texas, we have even bigger fireworks celebrations for New Year’s than we do for 4th of July, so I want to take a moment to share some tips with ya’ll, in the hopes that it will help you to keep pets safe during fireworks and bring them home in the event that they do get lost.
If you like these tips and found them useful, please consider sharing with your friends and family to help them keep their furbabies safe and sound too!
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Why Pets Get Anxiety During Fireworks
There are lots of reasons why pets or livestock might get anxiety during fireworks. Most often, it’s because fireworks are loud, very different from the noises your pet is used to hearing, they can happen without warning and can often trigger a fight-or-flight response.
Many pets will react with shock or fear. They may run and hide, act restless, pace or whine. In some cases, they may even run off or become aggressive.
Because fireworks are often unavoidable, it’s important to have a plan ready in the event that your pet becomes anxious or scared.
How to Keep Pets Safe During Fireworks
#1 – Keep your pets indoors. Never leave anxious pets outdoors. Even pets who may seem calm day-to-day can become overwhelmed and scared during a holiday fireworks show. Instead of leaving your pets outdoors, bring them inside and create a safe, quiet space to keep them calm throughout the evening. If possible, you can stay at home with your pet or leave them in the care of someone they trust who can help calm them when they get anxious.
#2 – Create a den or retreat for your pet. Create a small, quiet space for your pet where they feel safe. You can set up a pet bed or box in a bedroom or bathroom without windows, or even a small closet. Include a few of your pet’s favorite things, like familiar toys and treats. When possible, use curtains or white noise, like the TV or radio, to muffle any sounds coming from outside. If needed, you can also use a pet crate and cover it with a blanket to create a calming hiding place for your pet.
#3 – Calm your pet with a gentle sedative, CBD or Thundershirt. Lots of pets respond positively to calming treats, gentle sedatives, and even CBD for anxiety. A few products to try with your pets might be the Zesty Paws Calming Bites, Relaxivet Natural Calming Spray, or CBD Tinctures and Treats from Texas Tonix. Texas Tonix has products for pets and livestock, which you can purchase on their website. Use code “BFAMILIA10” for a 10% discount at checkout. Another option is a swaddle carrier, Thundershirt or Mellow Shirt, which can help to soothe your anxious pet.
#4 – Tag and microchip your pets. If your pet does get lost, you’ll need a way to get your pet home safe. Tagging and microchipping your pet is one of the best ways to ensure that anyone who finds your pet can return them. Very few animals return home on their own and are usually found and returned by a kind stranger. That’s why it’s so important to have your current contact info attached to your pet in the form of an ID tag or microchip so that they can easily be returned home if found.
#5 – Invest in a GPS tracker for your pets. If you absolutely have to leave your pet outdoors or plan to take them with you to watch the fireworks, consider buying a GPS pet tracker like Whistle or Findster. Many of them will fit easily onto your pet’s collar or harness and come with their own app to help you instantly track your pet if they go missing. Most GPS pet trackers only cost about $100 and will help you find your pet before they get too far from home. When choosing a pet tracker, make sure you do your research to find one that has a long battery life (some last for up to 20 days) and a reputation of accuracy. You can search for online and video reviews to find out which pet tracker is best for you.
What to do if You Lose Your Pet
#1 – Find a photo of your pet. Go through your most recent photos and find a clear, well-lit photo that will help people to recognize your pet. This will help others to identify your pet and get them back to you as soon as possible. If you’re posting online, you can sometimes include 2-3 photos. Add photos taken from different angles that could help to identify your pet.
#2 – Create a poster or ad. You’ll want to create a digital graphic or printable poster with important information about your pet to notify neighbors or local organizations that your pet is missing. Make sure that you write a clear description of your pet, including their name, color, size or breed and information on the best way to approach the animal if seen.
#3 – Search locally and online. Search your neighborhood and talk to neighbors. The best time to call for pets is at night or dawn when there are fewer distractions. Bring food and toys to help lure your pet if you do come across them. Call local animal shelters, humane societies, and groomers 2-3 times per week, every week, until your pet is found. New animals are always being found, so keep checking in. Share posters with your pet’s picture and description in local Facebook groups, on Craigslist, Finding Rover or other local lost and found groups.
#4 – Make sure your microchip records are up-to-date. If your pet is microchipped, make sure you call your microchipping company immediately to make sure your information is up-to-date. In the event that your pet is found, you want the shelter or pet organization to have your current phone number and address in the system so that they can contact you right away.
#5 – Don’t give up. Some pets could take weeks or months to be located and dropped off at shelters or returned to their owners. Keep calling shelters, posting online and spreading the word until someone contacts you. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, try setting aside 15 minutes twice a week to call shelters or post online. Checking in every single week will keep your pet at the top of people’s minds and they’ll be much more likely to remember you and reach out if they see anything or discover your lost pet.
Video: How to Find a Lost Dog
If you do lose your pet and aren’t sure what to do, check out this short video below. In the video, they give you a ton of great ideas for how to find your pet and where to get help.