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Ten Tips for Keeping Your Pet Safe and Calm on the Fourth of July

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With the excitement and festivities of Independence Day fast approaching, it’s a good time to give some thought to making the Fourth of July weekend a pleasant and safe one for our pets.

Say “the Fourth of July” and what do you think of? Fireworks -- in the sky and on the ground -- backyard barbeques, parties, swimming pools, and fun in the sun. But we sometimes forget that for the family pet -- whether cat or dog -- it means loud, frightening noises, uncomfortable heat, a change of routine, unfamiliar crowds, and oftentimes humans behaving badly.

Every year over the Fourth of July holiday, animal shelters around the country experience an upsurge in the number of strays rescued by animal control officials or others. The phenomenon is so common there’s even a name for these animal refugees: “July 4th dogs.” Frightened and disoriented by the noise and commotion, many will run off in terror, heedless of traffic.

Sensible precautions

You can reduce the hazards -- and increase the fun -- of the upcoming holiday by keeping in mind a few safety precautions. With that in mind, here are WebVet’s 10 tips on how to make this Fourth of July weekend a happy one for your pet -- and you:

  • Fireworks and pets don’t mix. Resist the temptation to take your dog to a fireworks display. Even a dog that is normally easygoing can get spooked by the noise and run off in fear.
  • If possible, keep your dog indoors during the festivities, preferably in a quiet, sheltered room with covered windows or in a basement.
  • Don’t leave your pet home alone if you can avoid it. Dogs can become destructive when frightened by loud noises and have been known to jump through screens and chew through leashes. If you do go out, leave the TV, radio, or fan on to help mask the sounds of fireworks.
  • Make sure that your pet is wearing a properly fitting collar with complete and accurate identification information -- including a rabies tag -- so that it can be identified and returned to you if it should run off. If you have a cat, make sure it is wearing a stretch or safety collar.
  • Don’t leave your pet unattended outside, even in a fenced area or on a leash. Terrified pets may jump fences or become dangerously entangled in their leashes, occasionally to the point of strangulation.
  • If you have not already done so, consider microchipping your pet. It’s a fast, safe, and generally painless procedure. Most animal shelters are now equipped with microchip readers and routinely scan strays brought to their facilities.
  • If your dog is going to be spending time out of doors in the heat, make sure to keep fresh drinking water always available to avoid dehydration and heat stroke.
  • Swimming is a great hot weather activity that many -- but not all -- dogs enjoy. Take some time to teach your dog how to swim; be sure always to practice good water safety.  Consider a personal floatation device for pets who are not great swimmers but who enjoy going in the water.
  • If your pet tends to be frightened by thunder or other loud noises, talk to your veterinarian before the holiday about medication to alleviate anxiety.

These safety steps will protect your pet from harm and you from heartache. So, keep them in mind and have a safe and happy Fourth of July!

Credit: Reviewed by Amy Attas, VMD
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