Of course, aside from hard-wired differences in temperament, there are things we can all do to put our pets at ease this holiday weekend. Here are some common sense tips to keep in mind:
1. Create a safe haven: Even if your friend’s Fourth of July party is dog-friendly, it’s always safer and less stressful (for you and your pet) to leave them behind. Keep cats and dogs safe from the noise in a quiet, sheltered and escape-proof part of your house with plenty of fresh water. Consider leaving a TV or radio on to mask the sound of the fireworks and to provide familiar noises while you’re out.
2. Tire ‘em out: If you have a dog that you know fears fireworks and loud noises, Wag’N Enterprises founder, Ines de Pablo recommends exercising and feeding your pooch a few hours before the festivities begin so she’s dog tired and can more easily relax.
3. Keep pets out of hot cars: Never leave your pet unattended in a parked car during the day. Partially opened windows on hot days do not provide sufficient airflow and animals can quickly overheat, and potentially suffer from heat stroke. Leaving them in the car also puts them in jeopardy of being stolen. Also never leave animals tethered or chained outside. Pets can injure or even hang themselves if they try to jump or flee from unfamiliar noises.
4. Read labels: Don’t apply sunscreens or insect repellents to animals that are not labeled specifically for their use.
5. Decorate with care: If you are hosting a party, your pet may easily mistake your red, white and blue glow sticks as chew toys, while cats can become tangled in streamers and ribbon. Pet-proof your home and keep your Fourth decorations out of paw’s reach.
6. Beware of matches and lighter fluid: The ASPCA warns that certain types of matches contain chlorates, which could potentially damage blood cells and result in difficulty breathing if ingested by your pet. Lighter fluid can be irritating to a pet’s skin, and, if swallowed, can cause gastrointestinal irritation and central nervous system depression.
7. Store fireworks in a pet-free zone: Exposure to lit fireworks can result in severe burns or trauma trauma to the face and paws of curious pets, but even unused fireworks can pose a danger. Many types contain potentially toxic substances, including potassium nitrate, arsenic and other heavy metals.
8. Don’t feed the animals: Never give pets BBQ scraps and ask other revelers to refrain from feeding your animal(s) as well. Some human foods — including alcohol, cooked bones, onions, avocado, grapes and raisins — can be toxic to pets, or at the very least can cause severe stomach upset.
9. Label your pet: Every 4th of July, San Francisco Animal Care & Control takes in lost animals frightened by the bright lights and loud noises of fireworks. Make sure your pets wear identification at all times and are microchipped with your updated contact information.
10. Be prepared: Have a basic pet first aid kit on hand and know the location and hours of the nearest emergency pet hospital just in case. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Have a safe and happy Forth of July everyone!