The countdown is on for summer’s biggest celebration. July Fourth is a day to honor our heritage and celebrate our freedom, but the holiday is also a time when pet emergencies spike. While this may seem like a buzzkill, you need to prepare for the many hazards July Fourth celebrations pose to your pet.
Take steps now to ensure your pet remains safe on July Fourth by following our Creature Comforts Veterinary Service professionals’ top 10 summer celebration pet safety tips.
#1: Speak with your veterinarian
Loud and unpredictable noises often frighten pets. If your pet becomes anxious at thunder’s first crack, fireworks’ boom, or other unexpected loud sounds, they may be noise averse. Fortunately, you can help your pet remain calm during holiday fireworks by talking to our veterinarians about whether your pet could benefit from a short course of anti-anxiety medication or sedatives.
#2: Check your pet’s tags and microchip information
If your pet goes missing, visible identification (e.g., collar or harness and tags) increases their chances of being returned home, so ensure your pet always wears their collar or harness, and confirm that the tags are legible and current. A microchip provides your pet’s permanent identification, but you must remember to register your pet’s microchip, and update your contact information if you move or change your phone number.
#3: Create a pet sanctuary for stressful events
Keep your pet indoors during fireworks displays and other situations they may find stressful, such as house parties or summer storms, because you never know when your usually calm pet may become startled or disoriented.
Create your pet’s comfortable sanctuary in an interior room—ideally away from windows and external doors—and outfit the space with your pet’s favorite toys and a cozy bed or crate. Promote a calm and secure atmosphere by playing low-volume white noise and diffusing a dog or cat pheromone. You can also ease your nervous pet’s tension by putting them in an anxiety wrap.
#4: Provide your pet with positive distractions
Interactive toys and long-lasting treats can distract your pet and reduce anxiety during stressful times. Activities that encourage chewing, licking, or sniffing soothe and satisfy your pet while encouraging rest and relaxation. Some good distractions include:
- Hiding treats throughout the room
- Scattering treats on a snuffle mat or rug
- Stuffing a Kong or similar hollow toy with pet-safe foods
- Smearing a soft spreadable treat on a textured lickable mat—best for nondestructive pets, cats, and flat-faced (i.e., brachycephalic) dogs
#5: Recognize pet-toxic foods
Keep your pet away from barbecue grills, buffet tables, and party platters, because they are full of pet-toxic and harmful foods that could cause your pet severe illness or intestinal blockage. Never allow your pet to chew on a raw or cooked bone, which can lead to lacerations, choking, broken teeth, and internal damage or blockage. Remember, while corn is safe for dogs, do not allow your dog to chew on a corn cob, because this food waste can become lodged in their intestines, leading to emergency surgery.
#6: Never leave your alone pet in a vehicle
On a mild 70-degree day, a vehicle’s interior can reach staggering temperatures in only 20 minutes—leading to your pet developing life-threatening heat stroke. If you will be running errands to businesses where your pet is unwelcome, they should stay safely at home.
#7: Always keep your pet’s water fresh
Your pet drinks more water during the summer, so to keep them hydrated, you must ensure they always have fresh water access. To avoid your pet’s gastrointestinal upset when traveling, always bring water from home or bottled water.
#8: Keep your pet safe around water
You are responsible for your pet’s water safety whether poolside, riverside, or cruising. All pets should wear life jackets to ensure their safety if they inadvertently fall in a lake, become fatigued while swimming, or are overcome by a big wave. If your dog enjoys swimming in pools or natural water bodies, ensure they take frequent breaks, and discourage them from drinking the water. If your dog drinks an excessive amount of swimming-pool water, they can develop acute toxicosis and become severely ill.
Do not allow your dog to drink, or walk or swim in stagnant or algae-covered water, because the water can harbor dangerous organisms, such as Giardia, leptospirosis, and cyanobacteria (i.e., a deadly algae that causes neurologic and liver damage).
#9: Watch your pet for heat stroke signs
Heat stroke occurs when your pet’s body is unable to regulate their internal temperature, and can rapidly become fatal. Many pet owners underestimate heat, wrongly believing that air temperatures must be in the triple digits to trigger a medical crisis. Keep your pet safe from heat stroke by ensuring they have plenty of fresh water and shade while outdoors, and restricting their activity during warm weather.
If your pet shows heat stroke signs, act quickly to prevent permanent injury. Progressive signs include:
- Excessive panting
- Elevated heart rate
- Discolored gums
- Weakness or collapse
If your pet becomes overheated, immediately take them to a cool—ideally air conditioned—location and wet them thoroughly with cool water. Take your pet’s temperature, and call Creature Comforts Veterinary Service for further instructions.
#10: Defend your pet from parasites
Summer get-togethers always seem to include some uninvited guests—biting insects. By keeping your pet’s flea, tick, and heartworm prevention medication current, you ensure they are protected against infectious diseases such as heartworm disease, Lyme disease, and ehrlichiosis.
Fireworks may frighten your pet, but many other July Fourth hazards can also be harmful. Be prepared to keep your pet calm and safe this Independence Day by following our summer safety tips. Before the fireworks and celebrations begin, contact Creature Comforts Veterinary Service to find out if anxiety-reducing medication or supplements are right for your pet, or to refill their current anti-anxiety medication.