The July long weekend has finally arrived! Whether you are planning an outdoor barbecue, a causal picnic or a full-blown par-tay be sure to take a moment to consider how your festivities will affect your pet.
While Independence Day fireworks are fun for us, they can be terrifying and deeply upsetting to dogs and cats. Luckily, a few simple precautions are all it takes to help make this long weekend safe and enjoyable for your canine and feline companions.
July 4th Dos and Donts
DO make sure your pet is wearing identification. With all the fun and excitement of the long weekend it is easy for your pet to wander off. Help give them a chance to get home by making sure their I.D tags are clearly marked and up-to-date. And keep the I.D on at all times – I.D. tags only work if the pet is wearing them.
DON’T use human sunscreen or bug spray on your pet. Always choose products specifically labeled for your dog or cat, or that are vet-approved, all-natural human sunscreens. Many human sun care and insect repellants contain harmful ingredients, which can be extremely toxic to dogs and especially cats. If your pet ingests sunscreen be sure to contact your veterinarian and watch for signs of toxicity including excessive thirst, drooling, vomiting diarrhea and lethargy. Pets that ingest DEET containing insect repellants can experience neurological problems and should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
DO keep party and barbeque foods out of your pet’s reach. It is natural to want to include your pet in the long weekend celebrations but too much of a good thing can be harmful. Avoid giving your pet high fat foods like burgers and hotdogs and instead share nutritious treats such as raw carrots and apples. We promise you your pet will be thrilled with these crunchy snacks!
DON’T take your pet with you to outdoor celebrations. Having to endure a firework display can be extremely distressing for some pets. While it’s great to want to include them in the festivities, some pets are better off inside where they are familiar and where the loud noises and flashing lights are muffled.
DO create a safe place inside your home. Dogs and cats left alone may panic at the explosive booming of fireworks and try to escape the noise, which is often when accidents happen. A better solution is to provide a “cave” for your pet; place your frightened pet in their crate or a safe room in your house. A favourite blanket, a soft bed and some tasty treats can help put your pet at ease while lowering the blinds and turning on the radio or television can help drown out the sights and sounds of fireworks and make the celebratory experience less stressful for your furry friend.
DON’T leave your pet alone outside. If your pet becomes frightened even a fenced in yard might not keep them safe. Many pets have been known to jump over or dig under a fence in an attempt to escape the loud noises. By the time they stop running they are often far from home with no way to get back.
DO consider natural alternatives to help keep your pet calm and stress free. Herbal and homeopathic products, such as Homeopet and BioCalm, can help reduce your pet’s stress levels safely and naturally without any worry of the side effects that come with stronger prescription medications. Pheromone based products, such as Feliway and D.A.P. diffusers can also be beneficial by mimicking calming maternal scents, which can be soothing to dogs and cats. One product that is a must-try for parents of frightened pets is the Thundershirt, a unique product based on the work of Dr. Temple Grandin, an author and professor at Colorado State University. Much like swaddling a baby, the Thundershirt applies gentle pressure to specific points on your pet’s body to help him/her feel more secure and calm.
DON’T feel bad if natural alternatives aren’t enough. Some dogs experience extremely high levels of fear and distress in response to the sights and sounds of firework and require prescription anti-anxiety medications to help them cope. If you think your pet could benefit from a prescription sedative be sure to speak with your veterinarian.
DO keep alcoholic drinks out of reach. Beer, coolers, wine and spirits can be highly toxic to pets and, depending on the amount ingested, can cause respiratory failure and death. Ensure all your guests’ drinks are off the ground & away from curious paws. Better yet, serve drinks in Mason jars whose handy lids will not only keep your pet safe but will help keep pesky insects away too.
DON’T forget to plan ahead! With a few precautions you can keep your pet safe this long weekend.
Happy Independence Day!