Keeping dogs safe on 4th of July

With 4th of July approaching, and backyard barbecues and fireworks to come, please remember that pets may not appreciate the fanfare as much as we do! July 5th is the busiest day of the year for animal shelters. In fact, dog shelters report a 30 – 60% increase in lost pets each year between July 4th and July 6th.

Many pets do not react well to the loud noise of fireworks and will go to extreme lengths to avoid them….as in ESCAPE! Consider a dog’s natural instincts to sniff out their territory and guard against inherent dangers.

A sudden change in their environment, such as a loud noise, intense flashes of light or gunpowder smells in the air can easily promote a “fight or flight” response.

A dog’s acute sense of hearing is 100x better than ours. Extremely loud noises are especially painful if not anxiety-provoking for a dog. Conversely, Senior dogs not formerly prone to firework fears may show new signs of distress as their hearing changes with age. This could affect how they react as they register sounds differently.  

In the interest of safe and professional pet care, please consider these 13 TIPS to ensure the protection of all pets during the 4th of July holiday:

 

PROPER IDENTIFICATION

(1). Make sure all pets have proper collars and ID tags, with current address and phone #. Micro-chipping is also a good idea. If a dog or cat gets loose, a Good Samaritan, shelter or Veterinarian will know to check for a chip and find the owner in the data base, for safe return.

For the ultimate in pet protection, a dog owner and professional pet sitter might invest in a GPS tracker. Using smart technology to track a pet’s location and activity, these wonderful devices easily attach to the collar and can locate a lost dog within 3000 miles. We recommend CubeTracker (in Members Only section). NOTE: Air Tags are NOT recommended for use on pets.

 

PLAN AHEAD

(2). Whether entertaining at home or planning to leave the house, create a quiet room where your pet guests can’t see outside. Play soft, classical music. Turn on a fan or other “white noise” tactics and make sure they aren’t alone for long. If you must leave, include toys, hidden treats and comfort objects in this ‘safety’ room.

CALMING SOLUTIONS

(3). Calming solutions for dogs and cats, such as calming treats, pheromone diffusers, and anxiety wraps, offer numerous benefits for both pets and their owners. These solutions help reduce stress and anxiety, making pets feel more comfortable and secure. Best to discuss this with your clients in advance as they may have calming products to administer when their pets are in your care.

Pet Pro Tip: Best to refrain from prescribing a calming aid without obtaining client permission first! You cannot predict if your furry guest will have a negative reaction to your “solution”.

EXERCISE

(4). Exercise dogs earlier in the day. In the cooler morning hours, take him for a nice long walk. Later in the day, play in the pool or use the garden hose to stay cool while fetching a ball in the backyard.

KNOW WHAT’S GOING ON NEARBY RE: PLANNED EVENTS

(5). Research local town news regarding city-planned firework displays, so you can anticipate when and for how long the blast will last. Pet Pro Tip: Consult with your neighbors or ask your client about neighborhood activity to inquire if they are planning to pop off a few rockets.

HAVE PLENTY OF FRESH WATER AVAILABLE

(6). Have a full, fresh bowl of water available (anxious dogs pant more so need to drink more) and serve dinner well in advance (anxious dogs often won’t eat).  Keep dogs hydrated during summer and 4th of July

STAY CALM TO KEEP THEM CALM

(7). If you notice that a dog is getting anxious during the fireworks, speak soothingly during the display and shutter the windows or lower the blinds. Do not overly compensate their fear by smothering them with more-than-usual affection. However, if they run for cover, under a bed or behind a sofa, then seek you out for assurance, embrace that opportunity to snuggle and console. Never scold a dog for being scared.

LEASH UP

(8). Leash all dogs when going outside. As an added precaution during fireworks displays near you, keep your dog on a leash when you let them out to potty (even in the backyard).

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NO DOG OUTDOORS UNSUPERVISED EVER, EVER, EVER!

(9). Never leave pets outside alone on any day, much less July 4th!! Many will panic and attempt to escape. Given their level of anxiety, they may dig under fences or rip through screen doors to flee the scene. This is a serious discussion to have with clients who have doggie doors and you will only be in the home for a short visit.

BACK-YARD ENTERTAINING TIPS

(10). If entertaining outdoors, be careful with human sunscreen and insect repellents. While you apply them on your own skin, make sure your dogs or cats aren’t in the spray. It’s o.k. to use sunscreen on pets if they are particularly susceptible (thin-coated dogs), provided they are vet-approved.

(11). Be cautious around your barbecue grill. The grease trap is a huge temptation for a dog and is an unfortunate cause of pancreatitis if consumed. Lighter fluids and hot coals should be closely monitored. Coals and hot sparks can jump.

(12). Keep animal treats on hand and ask guests to refrain from feeding the wrong food to your pets. Alcohol, coffee, chocolate, grapes, raisins, onions, avocado, fatty meats, nuts, salty or sugary snacks should not be shared with your pets.

(13). Festive decorations are part of the 4th of July fun, but they can pose a hazard to pets. Strings of lights, streamers, and balloons can be enticing to pets but dangerous if chewed or swallowed. Keep decorations out of reach and clean up promptly after the celebrations. If you’re using sparklers, glow sticks, or other festive items, make sure your pets don’t have access to them. These items can cause burns, choking, or other injuries.

Enjoy the celebration of our nation’s independence and have a safe and happy 4th of July!

Hugs,

Your Pet Pros at AoPP

Additional tips from ASPCA: Fourth of July Safety Tips | ASPCAFourth of July Safety Tips | ASPCA

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Photo attributions: featured image from 365 vet.co.uk (2019). 

Dog holding leash in mouth on shutterstock (purchased)

Dog drinking from fountain on unsplash