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How to calm panicky pets when fireworks go off

Fido Fitness ClubPet in Woodmere.

Fido Fitness ClubPet in Woodmere.  Credit: Linda Rosier

Fireworks sound like the end of the world to dogs, cats and other pets, as well as all manner of wildlife, from nocturnal owls and raccoons to deer that become active at dusk, experts said.

The panicked animals — blinded by the flashes, their ears deafened — can become so disoriented that they run into roads or fly into obstacles, possibly harming themselves and motorists. 

That’s not all. “It’s feeling; that pulse goes through them,” which can trigger their flight-or-fight response, said Gary Rogers, the Nassau County SPCA board president.

Rogers advises keeping pets indoors during fireworks — possibly in as soundproof an area as possible, such as a basement, with windows closed. If walking them, keep a firm grip on a leash, he said. And he suggests consulting a veterinarian if troubling symptoms develop.

And for wildlife, he explained, remember that they also may not be able to hunt or care for their young if their territories sound like war zones.

At a news briefing Thursday by Nassau County officials on the dangers of fireworks, Rogers also suggested that just being there for your pet can help.

Suffolk SPCA chief Roy Gross said it's also important to make sure your pet has an ID tag.

"Remember, if your pet bolts outside, having it always wear a collar with your address and telephone number on it is one of the best ways to ensure its return," Gross said.

And anyone facing mounting bills during the pandemic can pick up free pet food from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the SPCA’ s Hauppauge headquarters, 725 Veterans Memorial Highway, he said.

“Don’t leave it home alone. Make sure it doesn’t get out, because it will take off running,” he said.

“They hear the fireworks, they feel that percussion, and they take off,” he said. “Why do you want to stress out these animals?”

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