As we get ready to celebrate the birth of our nation, we need to also realize that Independence Day can be upsetting to our pets.
Fireworks, explosions, loud music, even having a lot of guests over for a barbecue can upset our pet companions, causing stress and, in some case, the loss of our beloved animals.
July 5 is one of the busiest intake days of the year for animal shelters as lost pets, mostly dogs, are brought in. Nationally, shelters report a 30 percent increase in strays taken in over the holiday; for some local shelters the numbers are even higher.
Don't take any chances this year. Make sure your pets are safe and sound before the fireworks and activities begin. Here are some tips from the experts. If you know your dog or cat is likely to get extremely agitated by the noises, ask your vet for advice, but avoid sedatives that can actually make matters worse. Stay close to your pets. If they have a history of reacting badly to fireworks, stick around home and keep things as normal as possible. Close windows and lower the blinds to minimize sounds and flashes of light. Put them in a place where they will feel safe, and stay with them. If you're having a party, let guests know that you have a pet and ask them to be careful about leaving gates and doors open. Often a dog will become gradually stressed by the activity and will suddenly bolt when it gets to be too much. Cutting off exit routes is important. During the day, before the fireworks start, spend time with your dog playing and exercising. If your pet doesn't always wear a collar, make sure he or she has one on during the festivities. If the animal does get out, being able to make a quick identification will increase the chances for a swift return. While dogs are most often the victims of Fourth fright, cats, birds and other animals also can be disturbed by the activity. Keep an eye on them to make sure they aren't becoming agitated. While celebrating around the pool or on water, be sure to keep your dog safe. Most dogs can swim, but not all of them are very good at it. Dogs with flat faces and broad chests have particularly difficult times. The dogs can easily tire out and be unable to get themselves out of the water. Consider buying a lift jacket for your dog. It's going to be hot out there, so be sure you provide a shady place for your dog and plenty of drinking water. If your dog does go into the pool, be sure to rinse him or her off immediately to get rid of salt and other pool chemicals. Don't take your pets to fireworks displays. The combination of noise, flashes of light and crowds will be too stressful for them. Don't use insect repellents on your animals. Citronella candles and oils also can make pets ill. Alcohol can be fatal to pets so be sure to keep drinks out of reach. If you're having a barbecue be sure to keep lighter fluid and matches out of your pet's reach. Glow sticks and jewelry are fun, and draping them over your dog or cat may look cute, but they can be harmful if the animal chews them and swallows bits of the plastic. If you dress your pet up for the day, don't leave them in costume too long. It will be hot and if the animal becomes upset, it could become tangled in the costume and injure itself.
Contact Joan Morris at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Animal Life blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/pets.