Keeping pets safe for the holiday

Mary Ann Kearns - [email protected]

While the Fourth of July is a fun and exciting time for many families with parades and fireworks that come with the celebration, for some family members it is just downright terrifying.

Many pets — especially dogs — are frightened by the sound and fury that fireworks brings, along with the change in routine and the general upset often associated with the holiday. Sadly, that fright and confusion often results in the pet running away to escape the noise.

According to the ASPCA, more dogs are lost or run away during the 4th of July holiday than any other time of the year. That makes it one of the busiest times of year for shelters, which often become overcrowded with the influx of runaways.

Despite the dangers, there are some precautions which pet owners can take to keep their pets safe and at home during the holiday, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Be prepared:

— Make sure your pets – cats and dogs alike – have identification tags with up-to-date information.

— Talk with your veterinarian about micro-chipping your pets, if they aren’t already micro-chipped. This simple procedure can greatly improve your chances of getting your pets back if they become lost.

— If your pets are micro-chipped, make sure your contact information is up-to-date.

— Take a current photo of all of your pets.

— If your pet has historically been anxious on this holiday, or if you have reason to expect potentially harmful reactions, consider behavioral therapy to desensitize your pet and reduce the risk of problems. Some pets may need medication. Consult your veterinarian.

— Make sure the environment is safe and secure. If your neighbors set off fireworks at an unexpected time, is your yard secure enough to keep your pet contained? Evaluate your options, and choose the safest area for your animals; and make improvements if needed to make the area more secure.

Safety during the celebration:

— Leave your pets at home when you go to parties, fireworks displays, parades and other gatherings.

— Consider putting your pets in a safe, escape-proof room or crate during parties and fireworks.

If you’re hosting guests, ask them to help keep an eye on your pets to make sure they don’t escape. Placing notes on exit doors and gates can help both you and your guests remain vigilant.

— Keep your pets inside if you or your neighbors are setting off fireworks.

— Keep sparklers, glow sticks, fireworks, charcoal and kabob skewers away from curious pets.

— Don’t let pets get near your barbecue grill while it is in use or still hot.

— Avoid the urge to feed your pets table scraps or other foods intended for people.

— Remember that too much sun and heat (and humidity) can be dangerous to pets. Keep them inside when it’s extremely hot/humid; make sure they have access to shady spots and plenty of water when outdoors.

Never leave your pet in your car when it’s warm outside. Vehicle interiors heat up much faster than the air around them, and even a short time in a locked car can be dangerous to pets.

— If you’re travelling out of town for the holiday, consider leaving your pets at home with a pet sitter or boarding them in a kennel.

After it’s all over:

Check your yard for fireworks debris before allowing pets outside to play or relax.

If you hosted guests, check both your yard and home for food scraps or other debris that might be dangerous to pets, such as food skewers.

Mary Ann Kearns

[email protected]