The Independence Day holiday is a great time to enjoy friends and family. But some family members – your dogs, cats, birds and other companion animals – can find this holiday a time of great stress and anxiety. When dogs and cats are frightened they are more likely to run away from their homes, jump out of open windows or dart into traffic. Stressed pets can also behave out of character — even scratching or biting people.
And it’s not just companion animals who are at risk.
Frightened farm animals and livestock have been known to run into barbed-wire fences or other obstructions.
With a little planning, though, you can take steps to keep their all their animals safe.
- Keep pets inside: Pets who are inside have fewer opportunities to confront strangers. Some pets do well left in a separate room with the radio or television on to mask the sound of fireworks. Be sure to leave plenty of toys in the room for your pet so that he doesn’t think he’s being isolated as a punishment. A basement or a quiet room in the interior part of the house or apartment is best.
- Identification: Make sure your pet is wearing identification. Dogs and cats may try to run away if they feel threatened. Clear, current identification is your best chance to have them returned to you.
- Never use fireworks around pets!: While exposure to lit fireworks can potentially result in severe burns and/or trauma to the face and paws of curious pets, even unused fireworks can pose a danger. Many types contain potentially toxic substances, including potassium nitrate, arsenic and other heavy metals.
- Don’t bring pets to public fireworks events: Loud, crowded fireworks displays are no fun for pets, who can become frightened or disoriented by the sound. Please resist the urge to take them to Independence Day festivities, and opt instead to keep them safe from the noise in a quiet, sheltered and escape-proof area at home.
- Make sure your pet immunizations are up to date
- Keep emergency contacts for pets written down and handy
For many people, nothing beats lounging in the backyard on the Fourth of July with good friends and family—including furry friends. While it may seem like a great idea to reward your pet with scraps from the grill, in reality some festive foods and activities can be potentially hazardous to him. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center offers the following tips:
- Never leave alcoholic drinks unattended where pets can reach them. Alcoholic beverages have the potential to poison pets. If ingested, the animal could become very intoxicated and weak, severely depressed or could go into a coma. Death from respiratory failure is also a possibility in severe cases.
- Do not apply any sunscreen or insect repellent product to your pet that is not labeled specifically for use on animals. Ingestion of sunscreen products can result in drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst and lethargy. The misuse of insect repellent that contains DEET can lead to neurological problems.
- Always keep matches and lighter fluid out of your pets’ reach. Certain types of matches contain chlorates, which could potentially damage blood cells and result in difficulty breathing—or even kidney disease in severe cases. Lighter fluid can be irritating to skin, and if ingested can produce gastrointestinal irritation and central nervous system depression. If lighter fluid is inhaled, aspiration pneumonia and breathing problems could develop.
- Keep your pets on their normal diet. Any change, even for one meal, can give your pet severe indigestion and diarrhea. This is particularly true for older animals who have more delicate digestive systems and nutritional requirements. And keep in mind that foods such as onions, chocolate, coffee, avocado, grapes, raisins, salt and yeast dough can all be potentially toxic to companion animals.
- Do not put glow jewelry on your pets, or allow them to play with it. While the luminescent substance contained in these products is not highly toxic, excessive drooling and gastrointestinal irritation could still result from ingestions, and intestinal blockage could occur from swallowing large pieces of the plastic containers.
- Keep citronella candles, insect coils and tiki torch oil products out of reach. Ingestion can produce stomach irritation and possibly even central nervous system depression. If inhaled, the oils could cause aspiration pneumonia in pets.
The ASPCA Mobile App is a good resource for pet owners. You’ll receive a personalized missing pet recovery kit, including step-by-step instructions on how to search for a lost animal in a variety of circumstances.
Keep your pets’ IDs up to date! It’s a good idea for all your animal companions—even indoor-only pets—to always wear a collar with an ID tag that includes your name, current phone number and any relevant contact information. July 1 is National ID Your Pet Day, which serves as an annual check-in to make sure your pets’ identification tags and microchip information is up to date.
Finally, know where to find an emergency veterinarian if your regular vet’s office is closed. In Lexington, we’re familiar with*:
More on pet safety from the ASPCA
Some content courtesy of:
The British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
* Disclaimer: The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government and the LFUCG Division of Emergency Management do not endorse any goods or services mentioned in our blog posts, social media statements, press releases, or website content. Any mention of commercial products is for informational purposes only.