VT Vet School explains how to keep your pet stress-free this Fourth of July

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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ7) The firework stand is a popular stop before the fourth of July, the animal shelter and hospital is typically a heavily visited place afterward.

Pets get spooked by big bangs - even the small fireworks you set off in your yard.

Lots of pets end up running or worse, injuring themselves.

The Virginia Maryland College of Veterinarian Medicine at Virginia Tech small animal hospital usually sees more traumatic injuries after the fourth of July. It's already staffed and ready for emergencies this year.

"We anticipate a larger than normal number of patients that have suffered some sort of traumatic injury secondary to fireworks and noise phobias," said Dr. Mark Freeman, a Virginia Tech Veterinarian.

The holiday is no break for staff at the Vet School. Emergency services stay open and staffed - especially the ICU. Additional staff and emergency workers are ready for the call.

"We also have people who are on call for backup. So if we have more patients we can deal with we have people who can be called in," Freeman said.

Dogs are more sensitive to loud noises. It gives them anxiety and fear, their most common reaction is to run away. Nationwide more dogs end up in animal shelters around the fourth than any other time of the year.

"They're not looking at what they're running to so dogs run into the street get hit by a car, fall off of a high place, if they're on a second floor, third floor balcony, falling off of a balcony," Freeman said.

Medicine helps with this fear and is available through the veterinarian. Behavior modification therapy is time consuming treatment but helps desensitize the pet to loud noises so they're no longer afraid of them.

Also, Dr. Freeman says swaddling helps. Wrapping them up in a towel or blanket and hold them closely to calm their fears.
No matter which treatment you choose, be prepared in advance.

"If you've been through this before and you know your animal has a noise phobia, plan ahead for it. Don't wait until two days before the fourth of July," Freeman said.

If medication or behavior therapy is out of the question, Dr. Freeman says to take your pet far away from fireworks displays and loud noises.