In part 2 of our Fourth of July Safety posts, we have to consider our four-legged friends. Whether you are a dog person or a cat person, our pets are part of our family. Every year, thousands of pets are lost, injured or killed as a result of our fourth of July celebrations, so take a few minutes and read through the following 7 tips to provide an extra measure of safety and comfort for our pets.
1. Fireworks safety
Most pets are terrified of fireworks: the loud noise, crowds and bursts of bright light all boost your pet's anxiety quotient. The first step is to learn the signs of stress in your pet, trembling, clingy behavior, barking, hiding or trying to escape, urination or defecation in the house, loss of appetite can all be signs that your pet may be stressed.
Keep dogs and cats away from fireworks and create a safe haven for them at home. Make sure the room is a comfortable temperature, close the windows, lower the lighting if necessary, and use calming music to mask the noise from the fireworks. Don't leave your pet home alone if they get upset by loud noises. Have someone stay with the pet during firework activities. If you think your pet requires a calming aid or sedative, check with your pet's veterinarian before giving such aids and follow directions carefully. Take your pet on a long walk before the fireworks begin, around dusk, to help tire them out and make them more restful for the evening.
It's never too late to help your pet deal with a fear of fireworks. Start now desensitizing your pet to fireworks and loud noises. Habituation is a type of learning where a response to a stimulus (e.g. stress caused by the sound of fireworks) is reduced through repeated exposure. Playing firework noises on a low volume ahead of bonfire night will reduce your pet’s stress response to that sound. Begin playing these sounds at a low volume and if your pet responds well, you can increase the volume over time.
2. Cool It
The Fourth of July holiday occurs during one of the hottest summer periods. Animals, just like people, are susceptible to heat stroke. Make sure your pet has plenty of shade and cool water, and limit their exercise. Learn the warning signs for heat stroke, such as excessive panting or drooling, muscle tremors and limited urine output. Contact your veterinarian or emergency veterinary facility immediately if you suspect your pet is suffering from heat stroke.
If the concrete, asphalt, or pavement is too hot for your hand to touch or to stand on in your bare feet, it's too hot for your pet to be on it as well.
3. ID your pet
Make sure your pet has some form of identification at all times. Ideally, this is a combination of collar and ID tag, microchip or tattoo. Your veterinarian will be able to implant the chip and make the most appropriate recommendations for your pet. Consider registering each pet on your household with one of the many new lost pet recovery services. Each year there's an increase in the number of lost pets in the days following the Fourth of July; make sure your pet isn't one of them. Also, make sure the information on the tags or with the microchip is up-to-date.
4. Pets and people food don't mix
You might think it's entertaining to give your pet a hot dog or blooming onion, but many foods that are just fine on your dinner plate are not just poisonous , but deadly for your pet. Keep dogs and cats on their usual diets, and make sure you know the foods, plants, and other ingredients that are toxic to their health. If you think your pet ate any of these items, call your veterinarian immediately.
5. Know your pets whereabouts
Pets are part of the family, and their instinct is to be wherever you are, including in the middle of your cookout. Alternate your pet's outdoor, social time with indoor, quiet time. While indoors, give your dog or cat a toy that keeps it occupied, such as a Kong or chew toy. When outdoors, keep your pet with you on a lead or leash at all times. Even if you have an enclosed yard, all it takes is one guest who forgets to close the gate for Fido or Fluffy to slip out of sight.
6. Keep harmful items away from pets
Lighter fluid, matches, tiki torches, citronella candles and other flammable items can burn and irritate the hair or skin. Keep pool chemicals in their original containers and safely stored to avoid spillage and contact with eyes and skin.
7. Sunscreen and Insect Repellents
Use only veterinarian recommended sunscreens and insect repellents on your pet.