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Pet owners cautioned on dangers of holiday

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The Thundershirt vest can help ease anxiety that some dogs feel from fireworks, thunderstorms, and car rides.

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Fireworks can be an exciting part of the Independence Day holiday, but some four-legged friends find them downright scary.

For many pets, the noise and commotion can be overwhelming.

In fact, so many pets become frightened and try to flee that animal shelters around the nation report an increase in lost pets around the holiday, according to the Humane Society of the United States.

"Many dogs and cats are frightened by fireworks," said John Dinon, executive director of the Toledo Area Humane Society. "If this is the case with your pets, we suggest putting them in an interior room in your house and playing music or the TV to drown out the fireworks."

Pets usually kept outdoors should be brought inside as an extra measure of safety.

Many pet owners have also had success easing dogs' anxiety by having the dog wear a Thundershirt, which is a tight-fitting dog vest.

The pressure is very effective in calming many dogs, Mr. Dinon said.

The shirts are sold at the humane society and area pet stores as well as online.

"They also work for storms and for other stressful situations, like dogs who are nervous about riding in the car," Mr. Dinon said.

If a dog has severe anxiety, the owner might want to consult a vet about anti-anxiety drugs for them, he added.

In case a pet panics and escapes the house or yard, it is also especially important to make sure the pet is wearing current ID tags.

Even 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.

"We generally see a few cases of lost dogs who ran off after being frightened by fireworks," Mr. Dinon said. "Keep your dogs indoors and when they are out, make sure they are in a secure area and supervised."

A lost pets that is found should be taken either to the address on its identification tag or to the county dog warden.

Even if a dog isn't frightened by fireworks, it can be hurt by them, experts said.

"Do not light fireworks around animals," Mr. Dinon said. "Throwing firecrackers around a dog that is trained to fetch can have terrible results. Also, if you like to light fireworks, please be respectful of your neighbors and their animals."

Besides fireworks safety, there are other summertime precautions that should be taken with pets:

Do not use insect repellent or sunscreen on your pet that is not specifically labeled for use on animals.

Keep alcoholic beverages, glow sticks, citronella candles, lighter fluid, and other harmful chemicals out of a pet's reach. These products can be very dangerous to animals if they are ingested.

Provide pets with plenty of shade and water at outdoor picnics and other events, especially in the recent hot temperatures experienced in the area.

Contact Tanya Irwin at: tirwin@theblade.com or 419-724-6066.

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