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July 4th Pet Perils

You may think the July 4th festivities are fun and exciting, but the celebrations can be difficult for your pet, who may find them frightening. Our Island Animal Hospital team knows you want to protect your four-legged friend, so we enlisted the help of Rosie, the roaming rottweiler reporter, to help explain the perils your pet may face on the patriotic holiday.

Rosie: “I’m reporting from under an enclosed deck where Frankie the foxhound is cowering in fear. His owner left the door open while enjoying the firework display, and Frankie bolted! Luckily, he is properly identified so when he comes out of hiding, he should be returned to his owner.” 

Island Animal Hospital (IAH): July 4th through 6th is the busiest time for animal shelters, because so many frightened pets run away during the festivities. Tips to prevent your pet from going missing this July 4th include:

  • Properly identify your pet — Microchip your pet and ensure they wear a collar and legible identification tags with your current contact information. 
  • Keep your pet inside — Don’t let your pet outside during the July 4th celebrations.
  • Keep your doors and windows secured — Ensure your doors and windows are securely closed, so your pet can’t find a weak spot and escape.
  • Notify your guests — If you host a party, notify your guests that your pet must not go outside. Post signs on your doors to remind yourself and your guests.

Rosie: “Reporting from a neighborhood July 4th picnic, where Lolly the Labrador retriever has ingested an entire chocolate cake. She isn’t feeling so well right now.”

IAH: Many dishes commonly served at July 4th celebrations are dangerous for pets. Any sudden change in your pet’s diet can lead to gastrointestinal (GI) upset, and fatty foods can trigger a potentially life-threatening condition called pancreatitis. In addition, certain foods, including chocolate, onions, garlic, grapes, xylitol-containing baked goods, alcohol, and macadamia nuts, are toxic to pets. Tips to prevent your pet from eating dangerous food include:

  • Contain your trash — Ensure your trash receptacles are sealed.
  • Keep your pet leashed — Keep your pet leashed, so they can’t investigate interesting smells and ingest something dangerous.
  • Keep food in sealed containers — Keep food dishes sealed so your pet can’t sneak a taste.
  • Pick up after your guests — Toss away discarded plates and cups as soon as possible, so your pet can’t help with clean-up duty.
  • Feed your pet — Feed your pet before the party so they aren’t ravenous, and provide pet-friendly treats so they can enjoy the celebration, too.

Rosie: “Reporting from a backyard July 4th celebration where Percy the pug overheated. He got so excited playing with the neighbor’s children, and now he is too hot, and his owner is on the way to his veterinarian.”

IAH: Heatstroke occurs when your pet’s temperature rises above normal (i.e., 101 to 102.5 degrees), and the condition can have life-threatening consequences and is considered a veterinary emergency. Pets can easily overheat on hot, humid days, because they can’t sweat, and must rely on less efficient means, such as panting, to cool themselves. Heatstroke prevention tips include:

  • Know if your pet is at increased risk — All pets are susceptible to heatstroke, but pets at increased risk include brachycephalic pets, senior pets, and those who are overweight or affected by a pre-existing medical condition.
  • Keep your pet hydrated — Dehydration increases your pet’s overheating risk. Ensure your pet stays hydrated with fresh, clean water. 
  • Leave your pet at home — On hot, humid days, consider leaving your pet at home, and—most importantly—never leave them in a parked vehicle. Temperatures can reach dangerously high levels quickly, and parking in the shade or leaving your window cracked does not lower your pet’s risk. 
  • Recognize the signs — Be aware of the signs so you can recognize immediately that your pet is overheating. Signs include excessive panting, drooling, lethargy, diarrhea, bright red mucous membranes, and collapse.
  • Seek veterinary care — If your pet overheats, seek immediate veterinary attention, and cool them en route to the hospital by pouring bottled water over their body or using damp towels.

Rosie: “Reporting from under the bed where Casey the calico is frantic with fear during the neighborhood fireworks display.”

IAH: Noise aversion to fireworks is common in pets, and can cause significant fear and anxiety similar to a human panic attack, and lead to psychological trauma, physical injuries, behavioral issues, and health problems. If your pet is noise averse, take steps to address the problem before July 4th, so your pet doesn’t suffer. Tips include:

  • Create a quiet zone — Confine your pet in a quiet area, such as an interior room or a windowless basement, where outside noises are muffled, and leave music or white noise playing to further dampen sounds.
  • Distract your pet — Play with your pet or give them a food puzzle toy to avert their attention from the scary noises.
  • Practice behavior modification — Techniques can be used to desensitize your pet to the noise that triggers their fear, but the process can takes weeks or months to be effective and involves:
    • Playing a fireworks soundtrack for your pet at a low enough volume that their fear isn’t triggered.
    • Feeding or playing with your pet while playing the track, so they develop a positive association.
    • Gradually increasing the volume over several sessions.
    • Lowering the volume if your pet responds fearfully, and increasing the volume more gradually at the next session.
  • Use a calming supplement — Pheromones and other over-the-counter calming supplements help some noise-averse pets.
  • Medicate your pet — Some noise-averse pets need sedatives or anti-anxiety medications.

If your pet is stressed or panicked during a fireworks display, contact our Island Animal Hospital team. We can determine the best way to address their problem, so they have fun—not fear—on July 4th.

By |2024-02-14T23:52:16+00:00June 26th, 2023|Uncategorized|0 Comments

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