PAW PRINTS: Keep your pet safe around barbecues, campfires and fireworks this summer

What's fun for people in the summer can spell danger for our pets.

Surrey's Canada Day fireworks display lights up the sky above Cloverdale Millennium Amphitheatre.

Fireworks fun for people, not pets

Along with warm summer nights come barbecues, campfires and fireworks. While the sonic-boom of pyrotechnics may be thrilling for us, it is not as enjoyable for many of our furry friends. Fireworks can cause animals to panic, putting both pets and people in danger. When dogs and cats are frightened they are more likely to run away from their homes, jump out of open windows or dart into traffic. Stressed pets can also behave out of character — even scratching or biting people. With summer now underway, the BC SPCA strongly recommends that pet guardians plan for the safety of their household animals during fireworks festivities.

Keep pets inside

An indoor pet is a happy pet on fireworks night. To help muffle the noise and prevent animals from escaping, remember to close the windows of your home and draw the curtains. Some pets do well left in a separate room with the radio or television on to mask the sound of fireworks. Be sure to leave plenty of toys in the room for your pet so that he doesn’t think he’s being isolated as a punishment.

Identification

Make sure your pet is wearing identification. Dogs and cats may try to run away if they feel threatened. Clear, current identification is your best chance to have them returned to you.

Don’t console your anxious pet

While it is natural to want to comfort your pet, it is better to use a bright, cheerful voice to send a message that things are fine. Avoid saying things like, “it’s OK” or “don’t be scared” in a soft or sympathetic voice. This only reinforces your pet’s fearful behaviour.

Leave home without them

While you may think it would be fun to bring your dog to the festivities, he or she may not share your view. The strange sights, sounds, and crowds can cause a normally friendly dog to bite if it feels scared or threatened.  A quiet night at home with their favourite toys and treats would probably suit much better!

The BC SPCA also has exercises that can help desensitize your pets to their fear of fireworks. For more information, visit spca.bc.ca.