Is your favorite part of summer the eye-popping firework displays, and delicious July Fourth cookouts? While your pet may agree that barbecued food tastes incredible, they are unlikely to share your sentiments about fireworks. Many Independence Day activities pose a threat to your furry pal’s health, but with proper preparation, you can keep your best friend safe from harm. Discover the most common July Fourth hazards, and follow our tips to avoid danger befalling your four-legged friend.
#1: Check your pet’s microchip
Each year, July Fourth is the day most pets are lost. Accidents happen, and panicked pets dart out open doors, slip out of collars, or bolt from backyards during a fireworks show. Without adequate or permanent identification, you may never be reunited with your beloved companion. Prevent this horrible scenario by ensuring your pet’s microchip registration company has your current contact information on file. Double up on identification by checking your pet’s collar ID tags for signs of wear, fading, or inaccurate information, and ensuring the collar fits well. For peace of mind, and to check the function and placement of your pet’s microchip, stop by Harbor Pines Veterinary Center so one of our team members can scan the chip. While it’s rare, microchips can migrate and move to odd locations under your pet’s skin, so it’s always a great idea to check the chip.
#2: Keep your pet off your cookout guest list
As the mouthwatering aromas of barbecued meat, roasted corn on the cob, and rich desserts fill the air, you may be hard-pressed to hold your pet back from rushing the picnic table. While your furry pal may give you their best begging puppy-dog eyes, hoping you will give in, and invite them to your cookout, stay strong. Fourth of July cookouts are chock-full of delicious people foods that are tantalizing health hazards for pets. Corn cobs, and bones from ribs, steaks, or chicken can become a gastrointestinal obstruction, or perforate your pet’s intestinal tract, requiring emergency, life-saving surgery. Side dishes like pasta salads tend to be full of high-fat mayonnaise, which can lead to pancreatitis.
If you simply can’t resist your pet’s beseeching gaze, stick to healthy, safe treats. You can give your four-legged friend fresh veggies, small bites of pet-safe fruit—avoid grapes and raisins—and tiny morsels of plain, grilled chicken breast. For a delicious cooling treat that will also keep your pet occupied while you enjoy your own holiday meal, make them a long-lasting snack by stuffing a rubber Kong with their favorite canned food and kibble mixture, and freezing it overnight.
#3: Take action to avoid heatstroke in your pet
As summer kicks into high gear, the temperature and humidity levels continue to climb. However, during your July Fourth celebrations, the only thing sizzling should be juicy steaks on the grill, not your poor pet’s paw pads on the pavement. Avoid overheating your fur-coat-wearing pet by exercising during the early morning and late evening when it’s coolest, but still watch out for blacktop, since these surfaces hold the sun’s heat well into the night. When outside, ply your pet with plenty of fresh water, ventilation, and shade, and monitor them for overheating signs. If your pet pants more than normal, becomes lethargic, or their drool turns thick and ropy, it’s past time to head indoors into a cool, air-conditioned room. Pets with flat faces, thick coats, or excess weight are most at risk for heatstroke, so exercise caution when these pets are outdoors in the summer heat. Also, never leave your pet in your vehicle on a hot day, because heatstroke can set in in less than 20 minutes.
#4: Prepare your pet’s firework-free haven
Most pets do not appreciate fireworks, and would much rather stay at home than tag along to your local fireworks show. If you’re setting off fireworks in your own backyard, leave your furry pal indoors to relax in a safe spot. Ideally, create a haven in a sound-proof location, if possible, to minimize the booming fireworks explosions. Small rooms with few windows also work well, and, if your pet enjoys relaxing in their crate, move it to this enclosed room. Drape a blanket over the top, and furnish the crate with a cozy bed, favorite toys, and treat puzzles to keep your pet distracted and comfortable. Well before lighting the first firework, ensure your pet is set up with a long-lasting treat or food puzzle in their safe zone, to keep them calm.
#5: Consider professional help to prevent pet disasters during July Fourth
Some pets become so panicked at the first hint of a loud noise, they can hurt themselves trying to escape, or damage their surroundings. Your pet’s anxiety may not reach this extreme level, but pharmaceutical therapy can help reduce your beloved companion’s stress during scary events. Schedule an appointment with our Harbor Pines Veterinary Clinic team, to discuss treatment options to soothe your pet’s anxiety. Our veterinarian may recommend a multimodal treatment plan that includes medications, supplements, pheromone therapy, or a Thundershirt to help calm your pet, and achieve maximum effect.
Before your July Fourth celebration, ensure your furry pal is fully prepared for the festivities. Give us a call to schedule an appointment to discuss options that will help ease noise phobia and anxiety, or to check your pet’s microchip for proper function. With careful planning, you can keep your best friend safe and sound during Independence Day celebrations.