Being mindful of pets and vets this holiday weekend

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KSFY) - While the 4th of July isn't complete for many without fireworks and backyard barbecues, it's not fun for everyone -- including pets and many veterans.

Loud noises can be terrifying for pets and veterans, so it's important to keep them in mind this holiday weekend.

"For us it's enjoyment, for them it's completely frightening," said Sioux Falls Animal Control Officer Missy Johns.

"This time of year we notice not only a huge increase in dog bites, but dogs that get injured, they try to escape their yards, they're running loose throughout the neighborhood," Johns said. "And even sometimes, unfortunately, suffer from direct injuries from fireworks."

The key is to distract pets before you head out to your celebrations -- and leave them behind at home to relax.

"During the day get them out get them some exercise and some play time try to burn off some of that anxiety," Johns said. "Put your pets downstairs in a nice cool, calm area where it can be nice and quiet for them, but also put on a radio or TV or even a noise machine."

For the veterans in your life, it's important to find out whether 4th of July festivities are an issue for them.

"The best thing that you can do is if you know someone that's in your neighborhood or that you're friends with -- check with them -- they'll be able to tell you," said Dr. Keri Leiting, a psychology resident at the Sioux Falls VA.

While many veterans know what their triggers are and try to avoid certain events that bother them, they might not know what to avoid if they don't know what's planned.

"A lot of times it's really the unexpected piece of it that's the bigger problem than the noise or sound, just like you have certain pets that don't respond well to loud noises either," Leiting said.

Explosives can trigger bad memories or episodes for some veterans and it's not a one-size-fits-all issue.

"It''s not so much just combat or just PTSD," Leiting explained. "It's reminders of experiences that may have been good or bad and at the end of the day, it's going to depend on that person for some people. For some vets, they love it, it's a good reminder, and for some people it's not."

Experts said the best thing you can do is let your pets and vets know you care this holiday weekend, either by talking about what's planned or leaving pets at home to relax during celebrations.