With Fourth of July approaching, as you plan backyard barbecues and enjoy firework displays, please remember that pets may not appreciate the fanfare as much as we do!
July 5th is the busiest day of the year for animal shelters. In fact, dog shelters report a 30 – 60% increase in lost pets each year between July 4th and July 6th.
Many pets do not react well to the loud noise of fireworks and will go to extreme lengths to avoid them….as in ESCAPE! Consider your dog’s natural instincts to sniff out their territory and guard against inherent dangers. A sudden change in their environment, such as a loud noise, intense flashes of light or gunpowder smells in the air can easily promote a “fight or flight” reaction.
A dog’s acute sense of hearing is double that of ours, as they tune in to sounds we can’t begin to hear. Extremely loud noises can be especially painful if not anxiety-provoking for a dog.
In the interest of safe pet care, please consider these tips to ensure the protection of your dog or cat this coming 4th of July holiday:
This applies every day of the year, yet critically important on July 4th.
Make sure all your pets have proper collars and ID tags, with your current address and phone number. This is so simple to employ, yet innocently overlooked by many dog owners. You can purchase a dog collar and tag. Another cheap and easy idea: use a permanent marker and write your dog’s name and phone number on his collar! No tag needed.
Micro-chipping is also a good idea, especially if your dog or cat can’t don a collar for whatever reason. If your dog or cat gets loose, a Good Samaritan, shelter or Veterinarian will know to check for a chip and find you in the database, for your pet’s safe return.
PLAN AHEAD & EXERCISE CAUTION
Whether you are entertaining at home or plan to leave the house, find a quiet room where your pets can’t see outside. Play soft, classical music. Turn on a fan or other “white noise” tactics and make sure they aren’t alone for long. If you must leave, include toys, hidden treats and comfort objects in this ‘safety’ room.
Exercise your dog earlier in the day. In the cooler morning hours, take him for a nice long walk. Later in the day, play in the pool or use the garden hose to stay cool while fetching a ball together in the backyard.
Research local town news regarding city-planned firework displays, so you can anticipate when and for how long the blast will last. Consult with your neighbors to inquire if they are planning to pop off a few rockets.
Have a full, fresh bowl of water available (anxious dogs pant more so need to drink more) and serve dinner well in advance (anxious dogs often won’t eat).
If you notice that your dog is getting anxious during the fireworks, speak soothingly during the display and shutter the windows or lower the blinds. Do not overly compensate their fear by smothering them with more-than-usual affection. However, if they run for cover, under a bed or behind a sofa, then seek you out for assurance, embrace that opportunity to snuggle and console. Never scold your dog for being scared.
Leash your dog when going outside. As an added precaution during fireworks displays near you, keep your dog on a leash when you let them out to potty.
Never leave your pets outside alone on July 4th! Many will panic and attempt to escape. Given their level of anxiety, they may dig under fences or rip through screen doors to flee the scene. This should go without saying, yet begs to be reinforced as an absolute no-no.
BACK-YARD ENTERTAINING TIPS
If are entertaining outdoors, be careful with human sunscreen and insect repellents. While you apply them on your own skin, make sure your dogs or cats aren’t in the spray. It’s okay to use sunscreen on your pets if they are particularly susceptible (thin-coated dogs), provided they are vet-approved.
Be cautious around your barbecue grill! The grease trap is a huge temptation for a dog and is an unfortunate cause of pancreatitis if consumed. Lighter fluids and hot coals should be closely monitored. Coals and hot sparks can jump.
Keep animal treats on hand and ask guests to refrain from feeding the wrong food to your pets. Alcohol, coffee, chocolate, grapes, raisins, onions, avocado, fatty meats, nuts, salty or sugary snacks should not be shared with your pets.
Enjoy the celebration of our nation’s independence and have a safe and happy 4th of July!