Anxiety caused by the sound of fireworks can be fatal for pets: Experts

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Despite social distancing restrictions, it’s likely that for many, this year’s Canada Day celebrations will involve quality time, BBQ food and lots of fireworks.

Although a backyard fireworks display provides entertainment for us humans, the same can not be said for our four-legged family members. According to a group of New York City veterinarians, the noise from fireworks does more than cause anxiety in some pets - it can be fatal.

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In an interview with the New York Post, Dr. Natara Loose of The Neighborhood Vet in Brooklyn says male cats are at the biggest risk of potentially deadly health complications brought on by fear of fireworks. The stress of the loud noises can cause so much stress in cats that they become unable to empty their bladders.

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“What ends up happening is they get an infection in the bladder and their urethra gets spasms… they get a functional obstruction and that can be fatal for them,” Loose explained.

Veterinarian Dr. Brett Levitzke warned pet owners to look out for any signs of urination outside of the litter box, cats running in and out of their litter boxes as well as blood in the urine. Levitzke also advised pet owners to look out for a change in eating behaviour or frequent vomiting, both signs that an obstruction may have occurred.

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“If you expose any dog or cat to constant stressful events, it will definitely have some psychological or behavioural long-term effects,” Levitzke said. “Really, the only way to get this anxiety to stop is to get the fireworks to stop.”

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Dogs are also impacted by the stress of fireworks, causing many to howl, hide, shake or even run away. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC) the panic induced by firework displays causes more pets to go missing during July 4 celebrations than any other time of the year.

The AKC recommends leaving your pets at home when you attend any celebrations where there might be fireworks. Instead, secure your pet in a room of your home with toys and soothing music that can act as white noise against firework displays. If possible, opt for an area of your home without windows so that they won’t be excited by any flashes of light and loud sounds. To help your pup through Canada Day celebrations, designate one person to stay inside and comfort your pet by giving long, strokes along the entirety of their body.

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Dr. Jodie Poller, a Manhattan-based veterinarian, told the New York Post that many vets experience an uptick in calls from panicked pet owners looking for ways to calm their pets. Poller said she often recommends sedatives to the anxious pets she treats, however there are other methods pet owners can take to aid their dogs. Calming pheromone sprays, vests ( like the Thundershirt) or calming treats can call help ease canine anxiety.

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