Tips to Keep Your Pet Safe This Fourth of July Weekend

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Poor little buddies. - JENNINE JACOB / FLICKR

The holiday weekend is about to kick off, which means many pets are about to lose their minds.

The Fourth of July is a stressful time for lots of animals, but the unpredictable noises and flashes of light seem to stress dogs and wildlife the most. And if your pup needs anti-stress medicine to keep it calm, today is likely the last day you can get it from a non-emergency vet. Many offices are closed tomorrow.



But aside from strapping Fido in a thunder shirt and drugging him into sleepy-time, most pet owners don’t know that there are other steps that they can take to look out for their furbabies during this often traumatizing holiday.

The Humane Society of Missouri has shared this short list of tips that you can use to help keep your pets safe this weekend:



1. Fireworks are no fun for pets.
The bright lights and loud noises of fireworks are often frightening and disorienting for pets. A dog’s ears, on average, are four times more sensitive than humans, so no matter how well-adapted you think your animal may be, it is usually better to keep them at home in a quiet and calming place. If you plan to host your own display, keep your furry friend away from the fireworks, as exposure to a lit firework could result in severe burns to a curious pet. Additionally, many substances used to create color in fireworks, like potassium nitrate, arsenic and other heavy metals can be toxic if swallowed. If fireworks usually cause your pet to become frightened and anxious, talk to your veterinarian ahead of time about supplements, pheromones, or medications that may help your pet to feel calmer and more relaxed.

2. Don’t let your pet eat food they normally wouldn’t.
Hosting a barbeque is a staple of Independence Day. With delicious smells wafting off the grill, a pet will probably be begging for scraps. However, some festive human foods can be hazardous to animals. Foods they normally don’t eat can give them severe indigestion and diarrhea, and this is particularly true for older animals with specific nutritional requirements. Foods like onions, chocolate, coffee, avocado, grapes, raisins and salt can be toxic to pets. If you plan to drink alcoholic beverages, ensure they are out of a pet’s reach; if ingested, alcohol has the potential to poison your pets.

3. Be aware of poison hazards.
Many substances found at a summer cookout or campsite can be harmful to pets if ingested. Don’t put any bug spray or sunscreen on your pets that is not made for animal use. Do not allow your animals to play with glowsticks or luminescent jewelry. Keep citronella candles, tiki torch oil and charcoal and other fire accelerants up high and away from any curious paws. These substances can cause irritation, stomach problems or even respiratory failure in extreme cases. If you think your pet has been poisoned, call your veterinarian or the Animal Medical Center of Mid-America at 314-951-1534 immediately.

4. Keep ID tags and microchips up to date.
Some pets can become so frightened by fireworks that they run away scared. Without proper identification it will be much harder to find them if they get lost. Always make sure that all ID tags are properly affixed to your pet’s collar and that they have your current contact information, including your cell phone number. Consider fitting your pet with microchip identification and ensure your registration, pet license information, and photos are up to date, just in case you have to retrieve them from a shelter. If your pet isn’t microchipped, the Animal Medical Center of Mid-America is offering a $25 microchip special for pets seen in their veterinary hospitals through July and August.

HSMO also notes that in case of pet emergencies, contact your veterinarian. But because it’s often difficult to think clearly during an emergency, it couldn’t hurt to write out your vet’s phone number (and the number of the closest 24-hour vet) and stick it to your refrigerator until next week. You never know what might come up.

Email the author at jaime.lees@riverfronttimes.com
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