Keeping pups calm during the fireworks + how to respond to lost pets in Birmingham

A little bit of preparation can go a long way! Photo via @annadudkova on Unsplash

The sparkly show in the skies is a 4th of July tradition—and it’s one that Birmingham takes seriously. While the spectacle might have all of us humans ooh-ing and aah-ing with our necks craned to the skies, our furry friends aren’t always so impressed. We found out how to keep them calm and how to respond should you lose or find a pet in Birmingham this weekend. Check it out!

Red, White and Boom

Thunder on the Mountain, 2018. Photos via Greg Harber

Confession: I stole that phrase from a coworker. She wrote about where to watch fireworks in Birmingham this year, and just the photos alone had me ready to see some (safe) explosives.

This annual tradition can make our doggos (and other animals) quite anxious. In fact, this fun-filled summer celebration can end on a not-so-happy note. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), More pets go missing during July 4th weekend than any other time of the year.

If you lose or find a pet in the Birmingham area, here are some resources and organizations you can contact:

Humane Societies

Social Media
Post in local pet-oriented Facebook groups such as these:

Area Animal Clinics
If your pet goes missing, contact your primary vet first, especially if your fur baby is microchipped. If you find a missing pet, contact area vets to let them know the animal’s description and your contact info. Here are just a few:

Proper Preparation

Themed collar-bowtie combo optional, but encouraged. Photo via @amjay_7 on Unsplash

Here are a few “before” steps you can complete to make sure the most Patriotic night of the year runs smoothly:

  • Homewood Animal Hospital recommends taking a current photo of your dog, just in case. That is if you don’t already have a camera roll full of them.
  • Make sure your pet has proper ID. Whether this is a collar tag with a readable phone number, a microchip or another preferred method, make sure all the info is up to date.
  • Prep a quiet space for your pet to hang out. It should be away from windows, a crate if they prefer it, or a basement or large closet. A smaller, den-like space can be comforting, especially when filled with familiar toys and treats.
  • Take them for a long walk before the shows start. This helps get energy out and also ensures they don’t have to go outside during the fireworks.
  • If your favorite furry friend suffers from pretty severe anxiety during storms or other situations, you can get them used to the sound of fireworks by playing it very softly as background noise leading up to the 4th. If you ease them in gently, it can help.

During the Shows

If you think you’ve seen a photo more All-American than this, you’re probably wrong. Photo via @camylla93 on Unsplash

Once the show kicks off, here’s what you can do:

  • First things first—don’t take them to the fireworks shows or have them loose in the yard while you watch. The more distance you can put between pup and explosion, the better.
  • Play white noise such as a fan, tv or speaker to help drown out the noise of the fireworks. This can be particularly comforting if your dog is used to the tv or music playing around the house.
  • If you’re anticipating a stronger reaction from your dog, have someone your dog trusts around to soothe them. Use calm and reassuring words, and pet them slowly but firmly. The AKC encourages not using a high-pitched voice saying “it’s ok, it’s ok!” repeatedly.

Special thanks to our friendly neighborhood experts at Cahaba Mountain Brook Animal Clinic for the advice. Be sure to check them out!

Stay safe and enjoy your celebrations, Bham! 🎇

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Beth Cunningham
A Birmingham transplant who can usually be found hitting a new hiking trail or restaurant opening when she's not writing stories and snapping photos for Bham Now.
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