Happy Fourth of July. Here’s How to Stay Safe, Party Animals
This holiday should be for fireworks and grill-outs — not trips to the ER.
Your pet wants you to read our newsletter. (Then give them a treat.)
OK, so you just recovered from an epic Pride party, and you might be moving a little bit slower this Fourth of July. Solution? Just pull up a camp chair and continue your Pride recovery while someone else grills a hotdog for you and hands you a cold beer. As stoked as you are for your pet to be your plus-one to the festivities (and as stoked as they probably are for those hot dogs), most dogs and cats would agree that fireworks are far from their idea of a good time. Plus, animal control services report a 30 percent increase in lost pets between July 4 and 6, only 14 percent of which are reunited with their owners.
Pyrotechnics trigger anxiety in many pets (and people for that matter), causing them to flee from the sound. And barbecues have their fair share of risks: Dogs can ingest things from toxic food to bug spray or get burned while begging at the grill. Don’t go canceling your holiday plans — get prepared so you can celebrate while your pet sits this one out. Follow these five tips that will help calm your pet.
Let them hide out in their happy place.
Unless your Fourth of July plans involve hanging out with intimate friends with a fenced-in backyard, leaving your pets at home will be less stressful for them and you. Dogs who fear loud sounds, especially those with a phobia of thunderstorms, should stay put. “If your dog is happy in a crate, that is a great option. Covering it with a blanket can make it extra cozy for some dogs,” says animal behaviorist Karen London, PhD. “Keep your dog in the most quiet and comfortable place possible…a room without windows is usually better than one with windows.”
Be sure to lock doors and secure windows so there aren’t any escape routes, lower blinds to block the flashing lights, and turn on some chill music for calming white noise. Give them plenty of exercise earlier in the day — firework displays ramp up after dark, not to mention the crowds that come out to watch them. It will also be easier for them (again, and you) to relax when you leave them if they’re good and tired.
Bust out your anti-anxiety tool kit.
Noise phobias aren’t as common in cats, but they’re pros at hiding when frightened. If your dog gets spooked easily, give them a safe hideaway for them in a crate or quiet room. Chewing is a soothing mechanism for dogs so leave them with a safe chew toy, peanut butter-stuffed Kong, or other interactive dog puzzle toy to help distract and de-stress. A Thundershirt is designed to apply gentle, constant pressure to keep noise-sensitive dogs calm, and CBD treats can naturally zen out pets. If they need something stronger, talk to your vet about prescribing anti-anxiety medication to sedate them until the morning.
Update your pet’s ID tag and microchip info.
If you do bring your pet to the party, keep their leash attached to your waist so you can hold your beer. But first, double-check that your contact info on both their ID tag and microchip is up to date just in case they slip their collar when someone drops a hot dog. Sure, microchips feel a little Brave New World, but 52 percent of microchipped dogs and 38 percent of microchipped cats that wind up in shelters find their way home, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Don’t fall for puppy-dog eyes at the grill.
With 300 million scent receptors (compared to our six million), that barbecue chicken smells even more mouthwatering to your dog. But chicken bones, corn cobs, and other leftovers can cause obstructions in their gut, often requiring surgical removal. Other foods and drinks like chocolate, avocado, and alcohol can be toxic to dogs. Save the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center number just in case.
Keep an eye out for other toxins.
Simply inhaling lighter fluid fumes can cause aspiration pneumonia, but seemingly less noxious products can make your pet just as ill — especially if your dog is a licker. Ingesting sunscreen can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy; bug spray containing DEET can lead to neurological issues; and citronella oil from candles can depress the central nervous system, resulting in decreased heart rate, coma, or death. Finally, fireworks can not only severely burn an animal, but many also contain toxic ingredients like arsenic and other heavy metals.
OK, that’s enough scary stuff. Now that you’ve got a plan, go celebrate and bring your pet back a doggie bag of stuff they can eat.
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