The most dangerous day of the year for pets is July 4th
|Photo from AVMA|
Summer is a time to get outside and visit friends and neighbors with backyard gatherings and playing at the park. These activities almost always include pets, especially dogs. However there are dangers out there that, while harmless to humans, can severally affect furry family members. Most of these summer outdoor activities come together on 4th of July Independence Day celebrations. While many people enjoy the excitement of this summer holiday, there is one family member that absolutely hates it: Your pet. The booms and bangs and strange people that come and go around this day are, while fun for us, terrifying for our pets. According the Humane Society of the United States, shelters around the country report an increase in the number of cases of lost pets during this time, making it a dangerous day for pets.
To help your pets get through the July 4th holiday, while still enjoying it ourselves, here are helpful tips from HSUS that will keep our beloved four-legged friends safe on what is a very scary day for them. More summer safety tips follow below so keep reading.
|Photo from HSUS|
ID your pet – This is the easiest thing people can do to ensure the safe return of lost dogs and cats (Yes, Please ID your cats!), but often we forget, or we don’t keep our animal’s information current. If your dog or cat escapes on the Fourth of July, being able to identify that animal is the only way to be reunited. All pets should have ID tags on their collars, even if they have microchips and even if they are indoor-only pets. This is because some sounds are so frightening, a dog or cat will do anything to get away, including busting out a window. If you have or are at a party and guests are constantly opening exterior doors, pets can escape. While microchips are useful in reuniting lost pets with their families, the person who finds your pet may not have access to a digital chip reader. Having an ID tag with a name and phone number will make it easier for civilians to find you instead of taking the pet to a veterinarian or animal shelter for identification, especially since most businesses are closed for the holiday. If your animal already has a tag and microchip, make sure the tag is readable and the information on the microchip current.
Leave pets at home – Sometimes social events can be stressful for dogs. Then add the loud pops and bright lights of fireworks and you have a potential disaster. It is best to leave dogs at home when going to BBQ’s, firework displays, and other 4th of July gatherings. Put pets in a quiet room in the house and turn on a fan or a radio or TV to mask the scary noises. If you absolutely must take your dog, keep them on a leash and under your control at all times.
Some other tips to help keep our pets safe during this summer season are from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Besides 4th of July fireworks, there are many other summer dangers for pets. Beware of these potential hazards.
Alcoholic Drinks – Never let your pets drink alcoholic beverages. They are toxic to animals.
Do not use human sunscreen or insect repellent on your pets – Human products are designed for humans. Only use sunscreen and insect repellent specifically labeled for pets. DEET insect repellents can lead to neurological problems in animals.
Keep matches and lighter fluid out of pets’ reach – This should go without saying because these things are poisonous.
Keep pets on their regular diet – If your dog doesn’t get table scraps the rest of the year, don't make July 4th an exception, especially if the dog has a sensitive stomach. Be sure to let your guests know this policy as well. (My husband likes to tell guests, if you give our dog table scraps, be prepared to clean up the consequences.) Also, summer picnic foods such as onions, chocolate, coffee, avocado, grapes, raisins, salt and yeast dough are potentially toxic to companion animals.
Do not put glow jewelry on pets or let them play with it – Luminescent items contain substances inside them that can irritate our pets, if it comes into contact with skin or ingested.
Keep pets away from citronella candles, insect coils, and tiki torches – These products contain substances that can cause stomach irritation and central nervous system depression, if ingested. Tiki torch oils can cause aspiration pneumonia in pets, if inhaled.
For the final summertime safety tip, the American Veterinary Medical Association would like to remind people that extreme summer temperatures can affect our pets as well as us. The signs and symptoms of Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke in pets are rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep red or purple tongue, seizures and unconsciousness. Animals most at risk are the very old, very young, overweight, those not in good physical condition, and those with heart or respiratory disease. Some breeds of dogs, like Boxers, Pugs, Shih Tzus and dogs and cats with short muzzles, will have a much harder time breathing in extreme heat. Keep pets cool by keeping them inside in the air-conditioning or in a shaded area. Treat over heated animals by applying ice packs and cold towels to the head, neck, and chest or run cool (not cold) water over them. Let them drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes. If you suspect heat stroke, take them to a veterinarian.
Enjoy summer and be safe out there!
|Photo from ASPCA|