July 5th is one of the busiest days in both veterinary hospitals and animal shelters for many reasons — panicked pups bolt over fences leading to injuries and lost pets, unattended food gets scarfed down causing gastric problems, overheated canines experience heat exhaustion, and the list goes on.
The good news is that we know what to anticipate, which means we have the opportunity now to plan ahead and help keep the Fourth fun and safe for everyone. Here are five tips to make sure you and your pet have a great Independence Day.
Keep the barbecue food away.
Summer barbecues are delicious for us but full of hazards for pets. High-fat foods like burgers and hot dogs can cause pancreatitis, kebab skewers can wreak havoc in the stomach, corn cobs are a leading cause of GI surgery, and ribs have bones that can splinter and pierce the intestines. Make sure all your grilled goods are securely out of the way of nosy pets, and keep an eye out for party guests (especially kids) who accidentally leave plates in precarious locations.
Avoid putting glow-sticks on your pet.
Although they may look cute, please resist the urge to put a glow stick around your pet’s neck. They really aren’t designed for pet use, chiefly because the liquid they contain can be quite irritating if ingested. Fortunately, there is another option! If you want your pup to look bright and patriotic, LED-lighted collars are designed to be both adorable and perfectly pet-safe.
Update your pet’s ID info.
Is your pet’s tag and microchip up-to-date? If you’ve recently moved or your phone number has changed, getting a new tag and calling your vet to update a microchip are inexpensive forms of insurance for a potentially scary problem. When fireworks go off, even well-behaved, mild-mannered pets can panic and bolt. One of the main reasons pets languish in shelters after the 4th is due to incorrect or missing identification.
Provide a happy distraction at home.
If you must leave your companion animal home alone when fireworks are likely, take some precautions to help minimize anxiety. Some may even surprise you! For example, some pets find classical music soothing, while others enjoy TV. There are non-drug calming options such as the Thundershirt or a pheromone collar. And, last but not least, try the tasty distraction offered by a treat-dispensing toy filled with healthy dog treats or cat treats!
Consult your vet before the 4th.
If your dog or cat are prone to levels of anxiety that over-the-counter remedies can’t address, your veterinarian might prescribe medications to help him or her through the night. We can’t stress enough how important it is to plan ahead for this holiday! Vet’s offices are often slammed on July 3rd with pet parents in a panic asking for a new prescription, and it may not be available on short notice.
While the Fourth of July can be a source of stress for many canines and felines, it doesn’t have to be! As you can see, just a little bit of planning can make a world of difference. We wish you a safe and happy Independence Day!