For most of us, the Fourth of July is about fireworks, grilling and picnics. However, for pets, it can be a major ordeal. Like any other holiday, changes to routine can open up new ways for pets to get into trouble. Fireworks can make dogs act frantic and cats disappear, while cook out foods and mosquito repellents can be major hazards. These tips will help your clients manage their pets’ anxiety and reduce the danger.
Toxic Chemicals to Watch Out For
Fireworks may be the biggest issue for pets, but Fourth of July celebrations add more dangers to the mix thanks to cook outs and fireworks.
Alcohol – Beer and sweet drinks taste good to animals, but even a small amount of alcohol can have disastrous effects. A few sips can make the animal intoxicated, while larger doses can cause severe nervous system depression and comas.
Food – A hot dog has more than twice as much sodium than an average sized dog needs in a day. Add in summer heat, and you have a recipe for dehydration. The shape and density of a hot dog also makes it a major choking hazard, especially for larger dogs attempting to gulp down the sausage in one bite.
Matches – Your pets may mistake these for chew toys, but they can be dangerous if they contain chlorates. The potassium chlorate that makes “strike anywhere” matches easy to light can cause blood cell damage, breathing difficulty and kidney damage.
Lighter fluid – Whether it goes in a lighter or on charcoal, lighter fluid can cause skin irritation on contact, and both nervous system depression and gut irritation if ingested. Inhaled fluid can lead to aspirational pneumonia and other breathing issues.
Sunscreen – If pets eat human sunscreen, they can vomit, drool, become lethargic or have diarrhea. DEET, an insect repellent found in many sunscreen formulas, can cause neurological problems. Owners should only use animal formula sunscreen on their pets, and keep other sunscreens out of reach.
Insect repelling products - Citronella oil found in candles and tiki torches can cause stomach irritation and central nervous system issues. While your pet is less likely to eat an insect coil or a bottle of insect repellent than some sunscreen, the DEET inside will cause the same neurological issues.
Managing the Stress of Fireworks
It’s common for animals startled by fireworks to run away, making July 5th one of the busiest days of the year for shelters. With less than 20% of lost dogs and 2% of lost cats making their way back to their owners, it’s important to have updated microchips and IDs on pets before the holiday.
Runaways are less likely if owners take steps to make their pets more comfortable. Owners should take note of these signs of anxiety in their pet:
- Panting and drooling
- A decrease in appetite
- Changes to potty activities
- Excessive grooming
- Dilated pupils
Anxiety-reducing medications are an option for pets you get severely distressed by loud noises. However, less drastic methods can put pets at ease:
Pressure wraps – Weighted vests and wraps work for some animals, but it’s not a cure-all. When testing or using these devices, owners need to know the difference between a calm animal and one that doesn’t want to move out of fear.
The animal may need training beforehand to get comfortable with a wrap. Owners can reward their pet for staying in the wrap, gradually increasing the time the animal stays wrapped up.
Pheromones – Like wraps, this method is effective with some animals and does nothing for others. Calming pheromones won’t solve long term issues, but their effect may be enough to get a dog through a night of fireworks. There currently aren’t pheromone formulas for cats that help with anxiety.
Safe spaces – Outdoor animals may need a shelter, while indoor pets will need a quiet spot to get away from the noise, like a closet. The quieter this space is, the more relaxing it is for the pet.
Desensitization – The surprise of loud bangs makes anxiety worse, but this effect can be reduced by building up to the celebration. Playing fireworks sounds at low volume can get the pet used to the noise, so they’re less likely to panic when real explosives go off.
We Can Help You Keep in Contact with Clients
Even the best clinics can’t help pets that don’t come in for visits. Positive Impressions, LLC can help you build relationships with clients, keeping your practice on their minds when they need help with their pets. We offer a wide range of reminder cards, greeting cards and promotional items to keep your clinic information on hand. We also have kennel labels, prescription labels and other paper products you need to run your business. We can custom print many of our products, letting you add your practice’s address or create a whole new design to help your clinic stand out. Not sure how to get started? Check out our current specials on our website, oron our Facebook page.