MOUNT VERNON — Dogs and fireworks don’t mix and it’s because of fireworks that the July 4th weekend is the top weekend of the year for lost pets.
Knox County Dog Warden Jim St. Clair said there are things you can do to minimize your dog’s reaction to fireworks, which can sound like thunder and trigger the same fears. Remember that a dog’s hearing is about 10 times more sensitive than a human’s and the noise of fireworks can be physically painful.
He passed along some tips compiled by Columbus Area Animal Rescue to help your dog cope with fireworks:
•Bring pets indoors before dark; do not leave your dog outside. Panic can enable a dog to jump a fence that would normally contain it and tie-outs can cause serious injuries, including strangulation and death.
•Take your dog on his evening walk before the fireworks start. It only takes one boom for a dog to panic, bolt and yank the leash out of your hand.
•Ask neighbors with “outside dogs” to put the dog in a garage or shed. If they refuse, make sure the chain or tie-out is not long enough to get to a fence. Every year, dogs on tie-outs jump fences and hang themselves.
•Close your windows and doors. It will help dampen the sound for your dog and could prevent your dog from jumping out a window or running through a screen door.
•Provide a safe, quiet place for your pet to hide, such as a closet or small bathroom. Provide a dog bed or lots of blankets and get your pet interested in this place before the fireworks.
•Give a “kong” (a heavy rubber toy with a hollow space for a treat such as peanut butter) or similar interactive food toy to keep your dog occupied during the fireworks.
•Turn a TV or radio up loud enough to help block the sounds of the fireworks. You can also use a noise machine.
If your dog has a history of problems with fireworks or thunderstorms, talk to your vet about possible medications to help calm your dog. St. Clair said some dog owners have been known to give their dog acepromazine (a sedative) during fireworks, but that drug causes increased sensitivity to sound.