How to keep scared pets safe over the Fourth of July holiday

As Americans get ready to celebrate the Fourth of July, it's a good time for pet owners to make sure their dogs and cats are prepared for what can be a scary time for four-legged friends.

For some, it wouldn't be the Fourth without fireworks. Pets, however, can sometimes be skeptical of the spectacle.

"Dogs hear a lot more than we do, so sounds that maybe aren't as loud to us are a lot louder to them," Animal Doctors of South Tampa veterinarian Dr. Kendall Putnam said.

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As Dr. Putman explained, flashing lights and loud bangs can overwhelm a dog's sensitive hearing. It can set off panic and fear, because, for them, it's an unusual environment unlike what they're used to.

"They might chew and dig things they shouldn't, chew on the wall. I've had dogs chew through doors and have issues in foreign bodies, so I recommend being with them just to see how they react," Dr. Putnam said.

To best keep them calm, Dr. Putnam recommended finding a quiet area and supplying them with their favorite toys. For some, background noise like a TV can help. For others, anti-anxiety medication is the best tool, which you can get from your local vet for about 50 cents a dose.

While some may chew, others may run from the sounds. According to the ASPCA, between July 4 and 6, animal shelters on average see a 30-60% increase in lost pets.

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"If your dog is microchipped, that's a huge precaution. Also having collars with identification on your dog. Normally, if your dog is at home and doesn't wear a collar, maybe put it on for this weekend," Dr. Putnam said.

Owners can also use air tags or collars with GPS to best keep tabs on their location in real-time. In the meantime, Dr. Putnam said if you haven't already, put your plans in place now, because vets may be busier than usual filling prescriptions.

"Trazodone is a big one that's relatively very safe for dogs, so a lot of times we use that. There's other ones like silica gel that they can put on the gums that kind of help calm them and other kinds of natural supplements too can kind of decrease the stress," Dr. Putnam said.


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