Fourth of July: Fireworks (not) for Fido

July 1, 2013 at 1:54 am (Uncategorized) (, , , )

It’s almost that time again, when we don our patriotic garb and prepare to celebrate the Independence Day holiday in typical Southern fashion: grilling, picnicking, jamming to great music, swimming with friends and family, and capping it all off with some great fireworks.

However, some members of our family, like our four-legged furry babies, might not enjoy the fireworks as much as the rest of us. The flashes of light and the loud pops and bangs can really set their nerves on edge. Their reactions might range anywhere from mild discomfort, trembling, and wanting to be held to hiding under the bed to stark terror, trying to scratch through the door, dig under, or jump over a fence. I’ve seen small dogs claw their way right up and over a four to six foot fence when stressed. 

When our furry friends are frightened, their fight or flight response kicks in just like ours. They can bolt over a fence or jerk free of a collar or leash in seconds. From there, tragedy can quickly follow, particularly if you are at a fireworks display near a main road or highway. A dog can dash into the street and be hit before a driver realizes anything has happened. 

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Here are a few tips from the ASPCA to keep your dogs safe. 
Keep your pets away from fireworks, candles, grills, lighters, and any other fire source.
Don’t let your pets near alcoholic beverages, as it can be poisonous to pets.
Don’t feed your pets scraps or people food from the cookout. Stick with their normal food. Especially steer clear of onions, chocolate, raisins, grapes, and avocados, which are toxic to pets.  
Don’t put any sunscreen or insect repellent on your pet that isn’t pet-safe. Ingestion can result in drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst, and lethargy.
Don’t leave pets alone around a lake or pool.  Aside from all dogs not being super swimmers, they could also ingest chemicals that could make them sick.

Make sure your pet has a properly sized collar, although many favor a harness at times such as these when they might be prone to pull or jerk from fright. A harness is much more secure, and does not risk choking the pet, plus it is much more difficult for them to slip out of it.  Be sure to have ID tags on your pet, with your phone number, so you can be notified if your pet does get away from you. If you’ve been considering microchipping, but haven’t done it, this is a great time to take care of that. It’s a great way to make sure your pet can always find the way back to you. 

If your pet always exhibits fear or anxiety from fireworks (and possibly storms and other triggers as well), talk to your vet. They might recommend medication to help calm your pet. If you must leave your pet alone, leave them in the house if at all possible, to prevent them going over or under the fence. Another suggestion, according to Dr. Pamela Reid of the ASPCA, is to give your pet a toy stuffed with peanut butter (if there are no dietary restrictions). She says the pet’s nerves are calmed by the persistent licking. 

If you suspect or know that your pet has ingested something poisonous or potentially toxic, call your vet or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.  Follow these simple tips, and enjoy the holiday with your furry friends. 

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