Fourth of July fireworks can lead to stray pets, so making sure animals are secure should be a priority for the holiday, according to experts.
The loud sounds, strange odors and bright lights of fireworks displays can cause animals to panic and run away, said Charles Lokey, animal services director for Texarkana, Ark. Frightened animals are more likely to bite and be struck by cars, as well.
"It terrrorizes a lot of animals," and the ideal is to keep pets safely indoors for the holiday, Lokey said.
Advocates advise pet owners to make sure tags and microchip information are up to date and to take current photos of pets just in case they stray.
The American Veterinary Medicine Association recommends the following on its website:
— Leave your pets at home when you go to parties, fireworks displays, parades and other gatherings. Loud fireworks, unfamiliar places and crowds can all be very frightening to pets, and there's great risk of pets becoming spooked and running away.
— Consider putting your pets in a safe, escape-proof room or crate during parties and fireworks.
— Keep horses and livestock in safely fenced areas and as far from the excitement and noise as possible.
— If you're hosting guests, ask them to help keep an eye on your pets to make sure they don't escape. Placing notes on exit doors and gates can help both you and your guests remain vigilant.
— Keep your pets inside if you or your neighbors are setting off fireworks.
On its website, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals recommends these pet safety tips for the Fourth of July:
— Never leave alcoholic drinks unattended where pets can reach them. Alcoholic beverages have the potential to poison pets. If ingested, the animal could become very intoxicated and weak, severely depressed or could go into a coma. Death from respiratory failure is also a possibility in severe cases.
— Do not apply any sunscreen or insect repellent product to your pet that is not labeled specifically for use on animals. Ingestion of sunscreen products can result in drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst and lethargy. The misuse of insect repellent that contains DEET can lead to neurological problems.
— Always keep matches and lighter fluid out of reach. Certain types of matches contain chlorates, which could potentially damage blood cells and result in difficulty breathing—or even kidney disease in severe cases. Lighter fluid can be irritating to skin and if ingested can produce gastrointestinal irritation and central nervous system depression. If lighter fluid is inhaled, aspiration pneumonia and breathing problems could develop.
— Keep your pets on their normal diet. Any change, even for one meal, can give your pet severe indigestion and diarrhea. This is particularly true for older animals who have more delicate digestive systems and nutritional requirements. Keep in mind that foods such as onions, chocolate, coffee, avocado, grapes, raisins, salt and yeast dough can all be potentially toxic to companion animals.
— Do not put glow jewelry on your pets or allow them to play with it. While the luminescent substance contained in these products is not highly toxic, excessive drooling and gastrointestinal irritation could still result from ingestions, and intestinal blockage could occur from swallowing large pieces of the plastic containers.
— Keep citronella candles, insect coils and tiki torch oil products out of reach. Ingestion can produce stomach irritation and possibly even central nervous system depression. If inhaled, the oils could cause aspiration pneumonia in pets.
— Never use fireworks around pets! While exposure to lit fireworks can potentially result in severe burns and/or trauma to the face and paws of curious pets, even unused fireworks can pose a danger. Many types contain potentially toxic substances, including potassium nitrate, arsenic and other heavy metals.
For more information, call the Texarkana Animal Care and Adoption Center at 870-773-6388.