Local veterinarians warn pet owners of firework, heat, food risks during Fourth of July celebrations

Posted at 1:17 PM, Jul 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-04 17:31:06-04

NORFOLK, Va. – Fireworks are a beautiful show of celebration for America’s freedom. However, those bright lights and the constant popping can be traumatic for our four-legged friends.

“Most dogs will show some typical anxiety behavior, which is gonna be pacing, restlessness, panting,” Dr. Betsy Marshall with Ghent Veterinary Hospital said. “They might be trying to hide.”

Dr. Marshall said she’s seen and treated those issues, at times prescribing anxiety medicine to help pets cope.

“Over time, if no one addresses the actual underlying anxiety to the noise, the level of anxiety will escalate,” Dr. Marshall explained.

Vets told News 3 more pets go missing on July 4 and 5 than any other day during the year.

Dr. Marshall said it’s best to keep your pet inside during fireworks displays, and to make sure all windows and doors are secured.

“You’re gonna wanna shut your blinds, make sure the animals can’t see the flashing. For the noise, you could have a white noise machine or play some music,” the doctor mentioned.

Some pet owners tell us they’ve very proactive during the holiday.

“I personally take my dogs inside, being proactive,” pet owner Ivy Stewart said. “I don’t want him to get startled and bite somebody or knock something down, a grill or something, and cause more of a problem.”

There are also bigger problems, like what pets eat. While you might be enjoying food off of the grill, vets say don’t feed your pets table scraps. They say instead, keep them on a diet that they’re used to.

“We don’t want the animals to get bones. Chicken bones are common, ribs are common. Corn on the cob can cause quite a bit of obstruction,” Dr. Marshall said.

And with the hot sun beaming down for the next few days, “Most of us will recommend only activity and light activity when it’s this hot, very early in the morning, or late hours.”

You are also encouraged to make sure your pet is wearing an ID collar with your most current contact information.