8 Practical Pet Precautions for a Great, Safe July 4th
Barbecues, backyard pool parties and fireworks make for the most patriotic of summer celebrations. However, as much fun as the festivities are for the two-legged members of our families, it’s best to do a little prep work to ensure that our four-legged “party animals” stay safe and happy during the celebrations.
Consider the following practical and sometimes life-saving tips in the days and weeks leading up to the Fourth of July:
- Pet Messes—Whether you are prepping for the July 4th festivities at your home or cleaning up after the patriotic party, you'll need a hand cleaning up those pesky summer pet messes. Some pets shed more when the seasons change, so hot July days can mean more fur flying around your home. My favorite tool in my pet-mess arsenal is BISSELL's new Total Floors® Pet Vacuum with Febreze® filter to eliminate pet odors. It’s a single machine that will eliminate pet hair on any surface including carpet, hard floors, upholstery and curtains.
- Party Foods—Be sure to keep holiday fixin’s for people out of your pet's reach. Also, warn guests not to feed pets, as they can end up being over-treated by multiple well-intentioned guests, or worse, ingest something that makes them sick. It’s important, especially over the holidays, to be aware of pet treat dangers.
- Fireworks—It may seem obvious, but keep sparklers, firecrackers, and all forms of exploding or crackling fireworks far out of pets’ reach. It’s important for an adult to supervise any fireworks celebration when pets are nearby. Pets may try to sniff (or eat) fireworks and pet hair can easily catch fire if too close to the fireworks. Follow these simple tips to avoid a dangerous situation like this resulting from a lack of adult supervision involving fireworks and a playful dachshund: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=umRB0FS2eac.
- Water Safety—If you are headed to the pool or lake with your pet, consider that not all pets (especially small or elderly pets) are good swimmers, and can drown just like people can. Keep an eye on your pet just the same way you would keep watch on a small child. Pets can become over-tired, heat-stressed, have trouble getting out of the pool and even get sunburned and dehydrated. Rinse your dog after swimming to remove chlorine and salt from fur, and try and keep your dog from drinking pool water, which contains chlorine and other chemicals that could cause stomach upset.
- Heat Precautions—When it comes to pets, we should realize that it’s hotter for them than we think it is. Consider the fur coat they wear and their inability to perspire as we do. Keep pets from succumbing to heatstroke by keeping them indoors and limit walks and outdoor playtime to early morning or early evening when temperatures are cooler. Make sure fresh, clean water is accessible at all times. Watch for overexertion on hot, humid days, and don’t ever leave a pet in an unattended automobile!
- Noise Anxiety—If you know your pet suffers from anxiety during thunderstorms, or even when a door slams, you can expect the same results during the Fourth of July fireworks. Consult you veterinarian about helping your pet cope with anxiety. Desensitization methods can reduce a dog's response to fireworks, but that can take weeks or months before you see positive results. There are a number of additional ways to manage your pet’s noise-induced stress through natural remedies, but more severe anxiety could require medication.
- Lost Pets—July5th is the busiest day of the year for animal shelter lost and found. Why? Because pets left outdoors, even in a fenced yard, are often so frightened by the various explosive noises that they run off, attempting to escape the sound. It’s best to keep pets safely indoors on the 4th, and even in the days before and after, as firework celebrations often take place throughout the entire week. When pets do go outdoors, be sure to supervise them or keep them on a leash. Ensure that your pet is always wearing proper identification—a tag with current contact information along with a microchip is a great combo. One potentially life-saving device that my dog Chilly wears is Tagg–The Pet Tracker, a new GPS-enabled device made just for pets. Should your pet escape from the safety of your home or yard, Tagg will alert you and allow you to track the actual location of your beloved pet. You can also search for or register a pet, or find help near you with the guidance of Lost Pet U.S.A. This way, you’re not alone.
- Emergency Vet—As a precaution, locate the nearest after-hours pet emergency hospital. If an emergency takes place during the holiday or in the evening, your family veterinarian may not be available. For a reference, try calling your family veterinarian to find out where they refer after-hours emergencies.
Despite these precautions, there are plenty of safe ways to include your dog in the holiday festivities. Bring them along to a picnic, a beach outing or include them in family gatherings at home. Just be sure to tuck your dog or cat away safely when the noisy celebrations begin.
Additional summer pet safety tips are available at www.avma.org and www.americanhumane.org.