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Help Pets Celebrate Independence Day Safely

Tuesday, June 22, 2021
By Alex Jarrell

Jumping Dog

Fireworks. They’re everything people love, and everything pets hate. Heart-rattling noises, towering smoke and a grand finale that no one ever seems to see coming.

July 4th is the motherload of them all, filling the air with these dazzling, crackling displays of patriotism. And while we’re all antsy to get out there and start enjoying our summer, it’s important to remember the effects the pyrotechnics can have on our pets’ collective anxiety level.

We took the liberty (get it? Liberty) of putting together a few quick tips every pet parent should follow to make sure they enjoy the fireworks, the cookouts and all the fun Independence Day brings as best they can. 

Head out while the sun’s out

Activity is actually a technique used to modify pet behavior and curb anxiety: The more playful energy you draw out, the less nervous energy they’ll have to spend later on.

Go ahead and take dogs out for exercise and spend some playtime with your cats before the festivities get started. Don’t overexert them, of course — especially on a hot day. The goal is to tucker them out juuuust enough to help them sleep through the fireworks. 

Make home a safe zone

You may be used to leaving your pet at home alone, but this is one evening you want to make sure they’re ok with that. 

If you plan to go out, think about putting down some favorite snacks and leaving the TV on as a sound buffer and distraction. You can also close the curtains or blinds to dim the light show.

Treat it like any other day

Pets have a keen six sense. They know when you’re happy. They know when you’re sad. And they definitely know when you’re feeling nervous. So try your best during the planning phase to keep your energy level and the mood nice and breezy.

Give them a little extra love and speak in a soothing voice as you get ready to head out. If you decide to stay home to view the fireworks, make sure you pay attention to your pet to gauge their reaction — and try to keep yours pretty neutral.

Make sure their contact info is up to date

More pets go missing on the Fourth than any other day of the year. It’s ok to want to spend the day outside at a barbeque or on a lake with your pet. But make sure you’re attentive and make them a part of the group. 

Now’s also a great time to make sure the information on your pet’s microchip and tags is up to date.

Watch what they eat

The Fourth is a holiday filled with barbeques, potlucks, buffets and other opportunities to graze. Make sure you keep a close eye over what food you leave out while your pets are on the prowl. Here’s our quick list of foods you’ll want to keep away from your pets when dinnertime rolls around.

Food

Potential hazards

Ribs & Wings

The bones can be choking hazards.

French Fries

Salt and butter can lead to weight gain.

Hot Dogs & Bacon

The preservatives and salt content in cured and processed pork products can cause stomach upset and diarrhea. Eating a large amount can also cause pancreatitis, which can be fatal.

Corn on the Cob

Not toxic — but the cob itself is a choking hazard.

Onions & Garlic

While your pet would have to consume a lot to be fatal, any member of the onion family can harm red blood cells. If your pet ingests a significant amount, take them to a vet immediately if they show signs of weakness and fatigue or dark urine.

Guacamole & Avocados in general

Avocados contain the toxin persin, which is more harmful to birds and bunnies than dogs and cats. Avocado might not be toxic, but it’s not good for dogs and cats either as it can cause stomach distress, especially when mixed with onions, garlic and spices.

Chips & Pretzels

Heavily salted snacks can cause excessive thirst and urination as well as vomiting and diarrhea. 

Grapes & Raisins

Check the fruit salad. No one knows exactly why, but grapes have been linked to kidney failure in dogs — even if they’ve had them before.

Chocolate, especially with Xylitol

Alone or together, chocolate and xylitol they can cause seizures.

Alcohol

Just a few ounces of beer or liquor can be poisonous to dogs and cats.

Try a frozen fruit salad

On a hot day, the water content in fruit can help keep your pets cool as a cucumber. (Cucumbers, by the way, are in fact fruits — and they’re especially good for overweight pets as they hold little to no carbohydrates, fats, or oils.) 

Cut your fruits into small portions and remove thick rinds, pits and seeds. Many pits and seeds contain small amounts of cyanide and could be a choking or obstruction hazard. 

A mix of fresh apricots, watermelon, mango, peaches, pears, apples, pineapple, strawberries, bananas and blueberries packs a nutritious mix of vitamins A, C, B6 and E as well as fiber, potassium, biotin and antioxidants. 

Keep it all in moderation, of course, and don’t let your dog snack on it all day long. The sugar spike and potential newness of these fruits could cause an upset stomach in higher doses. 

If this isn’t your first fireworks show

If you already know your pet has a severe stress reaction to fireworks and all their theatrics, start a conversation with your vet. There are safe, short-acting drugs that can be prescribed to reduce anxiety, as well as a number of natural solutions that might work for your pet:

  • Try a pressure wrap or Thundershirt for dogs or cats to make them feel swaddled
  • Have your pet spend the day at a friend or family-member’s home that’s further away from the festivities — but only if they’re already familiar with the space
  • CBD oil for dogs and cats appears to have some anxiety relieving properties in pets — definitely try beforehand to see how yours reacts*
  • Herbal or nutraceutical supplements with valerian, skullcap, melatonin, tryptophan, theanine, hydrolyzed milk protein are all reported by some owners to help calm pets*

All it takes to ensure a safe and happy Fourth is the willingness to pay your pets a little extra mind. We hope everyone in your family enjoys the holiday, the food and the fireworks in whatever way works for them!

*As with any herbal or nutraceutical, always check with your vet first. Breed, weight, age and pre-existing conditions could play a factor in the efficacy of even the most natural of supplements.


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