Unfortunately, July 5th is one of the busiest days in both veterinary hospitals and animal shelters. Panicked pups bolt over fences leading to injuries and lost pets, unattended food gets scarfed down causing gastric problems, overheated canines experience heat exhaustion, and the list goes on. I remember when we had our pet sitting business and we would see flyers for lost pets. During our dog walks, people were out searching or we'd hear the stories first hand of pets that got sick during a celebration.
The good news is that we all know the 4th of July is coming and that means means we have the opportunity to plan ahead and help keep the 4th fun and safe for everyone.
Here are five tips to make sure you and your pet have a great Independence Day.
Keep the barbecue food away.I know, this is hard. Summer barbecues are delicious for us but full of hazards for pets. High-fat foods like burgers and hot dogs can cause pancreatitis, kebab skewers can wreak havoc in the stomach, corn cobs are a leading cause of GI surgery, and ribs have bones that can splinter and pierce the intestines. It's tough because there are so many things going on during a party and your pet is out there making friends and giving those sad puppy dog eyes to all the guests. Make sure all your grilled goods are securely out of the way of nosy pets and mention to party goers to not feed fido no matter how much he or she begs. Watch out for kids who accidentally leave plates in precarious locations and therefore your doggie has easy access to a plate full of foods that can cause problems later. No one wants an emergency run to the vet on a holiday.
Avoid putting glow-sticks on your pet.I know, they look cute but please resist the urge to put a glow stick around your pet’s neck. They really aren’t designed for pet use because the liquid they contain can be quite irritating if ingested. A few years ago we were on a cruise and there were glow sticks. One broke open and from personal experience, I wouldn't want that on or in my dog. It was hard to get off my skin and I can only imagine if a dog or cat would ingest it. Fortunately, there is another option! If you want your pup to look bright and patriotic, LED-lighted collars are designed to be both adorable and perfectly pet-safe. Plus you can use the collar on walks after the 4th of July so it's a double win because people will see you coming.
Update your pet’s ID info.Is your pet’s tag and microchip up-to-date? This might seem like a no-brainer but if you’ve recently moved or your phone number has changed make sure to update that info...NOW. It's something that is easy to put off but when disaster strikes, you don't want to say that you wish you would have done it sooner. Getting a new tag and calling your vet to update a microchip are inexpensive forms of insurance for a potentially scary problem. When fireworks go off, even well-behaved, mild-mannered pets can panic and bolt. One of the main reasons pets end up in shelters after the 4th is due to incorrect or missing identification. When your pet is scanned, if your contact information is outdated, a trip to the shelter can be costly as many will charge a holding fee since they did take care of your furbaby while they were there. It's also added stress your dog or cat doesn't need.
Provide a happy distraction at home.If you must leave your companion animal home alone when fireworks are likely, take some precautions to help minimize anxiety. Some may even surprise you! For example, some pets find classical music soothing, while others enjoy TV. There are non-drug calming options such as the Thundershirt or diffusing certain essential oils prior to the festivities. When diffusing essential oils, do not lock your pet in with the diffuser and give them ample room. We stay away from prescriptions for pet anxiety because it can have an adverse reaction and then you are dealing with that. Last but not least, try the tasty distraction offered by a treat-dispensing toy filled with healthy dog treats or cat treats!
While the 4th of July can be a source of stress for many dogs and cats, it doesn’t have to be! As you can see, just a little bit of planning can make a world of difference. Wishing you a safe and happy Independence Day!
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Enjoy your day!
Lisa and Rich Jelinek