Keep Your Pets Safe on July 4th*

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More pets go missing around the 4th of July than any other time of the year.  According to national statistics, animal control officials across the country see a 30-60% increase in lost pets each year between July 4th and 6th.  In fact, July 5th is one of the busiest days of the year for shelters.

The safety and comfort of your pet requires special attention beforehand, so help your pets celebrate the evening free from fear by following these steps:

1.   Protect your pet before the fireworks begin:  An up-to-date ID tag and/or microchip identification greatly increases the chance of a lost pet being returned.  It is also a good idea to have a recent picture of your pets in case you have to put up signs.

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2.   Make them feel safe:  Fireworks displays can be disorienting and frightening to pets.  Please resist the urge to take your pet to Independence Day festivities.  Instead, keep them safe from the noise in a quiet, sheltered and escape-proof area at home.  You can play soothing music or turn on the television to help muffle loud noises.  Never leave pets outside and unattended.

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3.   Foods can hurt:  Make the grill off limits so keep an eye on pets during parties and BBQs as scraps can make them sick.  Make sure to have fresh clean water easily accessible for them.

4.    Keep your pets on their normal diet:  Any change, even for one meal, can give your pets severe indigestion and diarrhea.  This is particularly true for older animals who have more delicate digestive systems and nutritional requirements.  And keep in mind that foods such as onions, chocolate, coffee, avocado, grapes & raisins, salt and yeast dough can all be potentially toxic to companion animals.  

5.   Alcoholic drinks can poison your pet:  If ingested, the animal could become very intoxicated and weak, severely depressed or could go into a coma.  Death from respiratory failure is also a possibility in severe cases.

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6.   Always keep matches and lighter fluid out of your pets’ reach:  Certain types of matches contain chlorates, which could potentially damage blood cells and result in difficulty breathing—or even kidney disease in severe cases.  Lighter fluid can be irritating to skin, and if ingested can produce gastrointestinal irritation and central nervous system depression.  If lighter fluid is inhaled, aspiration pneumonia and breathing problems could develop.

7.   Keep citronella candles, insect coils and oil products out of reach:  Ingestions can produce stomach irritation and possibly even central nervous system depression. If inhaled, the oils could cause aspiration pneumonia in pets.

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8.   Do not put glow jewelry on your pets, or allow them to play with it:  While the luminescent substance contained in these products is not highly toxic, excessive drooling and gastrointestinal irritation could still result from ingestions, and intestinal blockage could occur from swallowing large pieces of the plastic containers.

9.   Do not apply any sunscreen or insect repellent product to your pet that is not labeled specifically for use on animals:  Ingestion of sunscreen products can result in drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst and lethargy.  The misuse of insect repellent that contains DEET can lead to neurological problems. 

10.   Natural Calming Methods:  More than 7 million pet owners will seek tranquilizers or other help from veterinarians for their traumatized dogs.  You might want to ask your veterinarian for additional suggestions about natural calming products, anxiety wraps and other products that can help.  You might want to check with your vet about the natural calming methods that can help get your dog through the evening:

  • Dog Appeasing Pheromones (DAP): Synthetic pheromones mimic the "appeasing" pheromones secreted by nursing mother dogs, sending a signal of comfort and safety to the dog. Comfort Zone, which is the most common DAP available, claims that they can reduce fear-related behavior, destructive behavior, aggression, barking, marking, etc.  For more info, check out the Comfort Zone website. 

Homeopathic Remedies:

  • Rescue Remedy -- Make sure you get the formulation for dogs, not people. Available at some pet stores and at Bach Flowers
  • Blackwing Farms products --Blackwing Farms
  • Pressure Wrap: There are a number of pressure wraps out there. One is "Thunder Shirt" and is available on line and at many pet stores. It comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. Bark Busters trainers have had an approximate 80% success rate with the Thunder Shirt.

By following these tips, hopefully fewer families will face the heartbreak of losing a pet during the July 4th holiday.