New Year’s Eve, Independence Day, and other holidays are exciting events for us humans, but some pets are severely distressed by the noise of fireworks. Remember, dogs’ and cats’ hearing is much more sensitive than ours so those loud booms can be extremely uncomfortable! Here are some tips for keeping your pets safe and calm during the holiday festivities.

First and foremost, it’s important to know how to approach or interact with your pet if they are frightened. Your Dog Advisor stresses the importance of speaking in a calm voice and having non-threatening body posture when interacting with an anxious or frightened pet. You must go at your pet’s pace, as forcing a fearful dog or cat to do something will only make matters worse. If you try to touch or engage your pet before they are ready, it will only cause them more anxiety and fear. Make sure your body language is completely non-threatening. Your pet is already scared, so you don’t want to frighten them even more! Appear relaxed, approach them from an angle instead of head-on, and speak in a soft voice to let your pet know you are trustworthy.

Keep all pets safely confined indoors on the holidays and the days leading up to them when people may be inclined to set off fireworks. There are many family and group activities that are perfect for pets, but a public fireworks display or any other type of gathering where fireworks will be set off usually isn’t one of them.

It’s best to leave your pets safely indoors, preferably with a radio or TV on at normal volume (too loud makes things worse) to dampen jarring noises. Pets usually kept outdoors should be brought inside as an extra measure of safety.

Never leave your pet in a parked car, even at night during a fireworks display. On a warm day, temperatures inside a vehicle can rise to dangerous levels within minutes. On an 85 degree day, for example, the temperature inside a car even with the windows cracked open can reach 102 degrees within just 10 minutes; after 30 minutes the temperature will reach 120 degrees. Even when the temperature outside is a balmy 72 degrees, the temperature inside your car can rocket to a fatal 116 degrees in less than an hour’s time.

Consult our animal hospital or your veterinarian if your pet is distressed by loud noises like fireworks displays. There are a variety of medications and techniques to help alleviate your pet’s fear and anxiety.

Invest in a Thundershirt. Our shelter has had great success with Thundershirts for our pets who are easily stressed by loud noises and other causes of anxiety. Visit the Thundershirts website to find out more about these great tools.

Ensure your pet is wearing a collar and identification tag with current contact information so you can be reunited quickly if your pet does escape. We also suggest writing your name and phone number in permanent ink on the inside of your pet’s collar, just in case the tags get lost. All pets, even those kept indoors full-time, should wear collars with identification tags at all times. Indoor-only animals can become so frightened during fireworks displays that they take desperate measures to escape the noise, such as breaking through window or door screens.

Microchip your pet with your current contact information registered with the chip company. This gives your pet the best chance of being identified and returned to you. Our animal hospital offers microchipping for just $30.

If your pet does become lost, visit our Lost and Found Pets page for tips on what to do.

Help your pets weather the SWARM

Summer is here and with the warm breezes, sparkling seas, and colorful blooms comes a whole host of critters that can harm your pets! Here in Florida, we deal with pests all year long, but even more so in the hot, steamy months when they thrive. It is more important than ever to protect your pet from bites, irritations, and diseases that these tiny troops can cause. Our animal hospital is stocked with the necessary medications to keep your pets safe, all at affordable costs!

FLEAS

  • Fleas are the most common external parasites found on pets
  • Fleas bite the skin and feed on blood
  • Fleas can jump up to 2 feet
  • Fleas can live as long as 12 months
  • Fleas can produce millions of offspring during their lifetime
  • Many pets are allergic to fleas and their bites cause dermatitis
  • Fleas can also cause itching, hair loss and hot spots
  • Fleas can transmit tapeworms to pets

TICKS

  • Ticks are in the arachnid family and feed on blood
  • Ticks bury their heads in their hosts skin and gorge on blood
  • Ticks tend to live in tall brush and grass
  • Ticks can cause
    • blood loss
    • anemia
    • tick paralysis
    • skin irritation and infection
    • Lyme disease (can be fatal if left untreated)
    • Cytauxzoonosis (fatal, no known cure)

MOSQUITOES

  • Mosquitoes are the most problematic parasite because they carry deadly Heartworms
  • Heartworm larvae are transmitted from mosquitoes to pets
  • The larvae travel through the blood to the heart, lungs and blood vessels
  • The larvae grow into spaghetti-like Heartworms
  • Heartworms can grow up to 12 inches long
  • Heartworms clog organs and obstruct blood flow leading to trouble breathing and possible cardiac arrest
  • Heartworms can be fatal if left untreated

PREVENTION

Monthly topical or oral medications are available that kill and/or sterilize fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes when they bite your animal. While these flea/tick preventions are available at supermarkets, Walmarts, and the like, we highly recommend getting them from a licensed veterinarian. Heartworm prevention is only available with a prescription and requires bloodwork every 6 – 12 months.  Whichever product you choose, it is very important not to use products on your cat that are intended for dogs. Cats who have been poisoned by taking flea/tick/heartworm medicine for dogs are a regular occurrence at our animal hospital and many of them do not survive.

We love summer in Florida, but the high temperatures and blazing sun can be hard on pets. From heatstroke to burned paws, summer can be dangerous for our furry friends!

Download our Summer Safety Tip Sheet and our No Pets Left In Cars Handout to make sure you’ve got all the bases covered.

If you suspect that your pet is suffering from a heat-related cause, please contact our Animal Hospital at 813-870-3304 or an Emergency Veterinary Clinic immediately.

Did you know that if you see a pet left in a car you can call AAA and they will send someone to help immediately? Just call them at 1-800-AAA-HELP (222-4357) or notify your local law enforcement agency.

Stay safe this summer!