Before you throw your first burger on the grill or toss another shrimp on the barbie this holiday weekend, be sure to take a few minutes to provide an extra measure of safety and comfort for your pet.
The Fourth of July is a wonderful occasion to celebrate our nation's independence, but it's not without risk to your dog or cat.
Holidays mean a lot of unattended food, some of it toxic to your pet. If you host a party, you're less focused on your Fido's or Fluffy's needs and whereabouts. And many animals are downright terrified by fireworks: every year, thousands flee the family home only to be injured or killed in traffic, picked up by animal control or simply never seen again. But there are some basic steps you can take to protect your pet so that it doesn't become another sad statistic.
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ID your pet: For starters, make sure your pet has some form of identification at all times. Ideally, this is a combination of collar and ID tag, microchip or tattoo. Your veterinarian will be able to implant the chip and make the most appropriate recommendations for your pet. Consider registering each pet on your household with one of the many new lost pet recovery services. Each year there's an increase in the number of lost pets in the days following the Fourth of July; make sure your pet isn't one of them.
Pets and “people food” don't mix: You might think it's entertaining to give Fido a hot dog or bloomin' onion, but many foods that are just fine on your dinner plate are not just poisonous, but deadly for your pet. Keep dogs and cats on their usual diets, and make sure you know the foods, plants and other ingredients that are toxic to their health. If you think your pet ate any of these items, call your veterinarian immediately or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435.
Fireworks and pets don't mix, either: Most pets are terrified of fireworks: the loud noise, crowds and bursts of bright light all boost your pet's anxiety quotient. Keep dogs and cats away from fireworks and create a safe haven for them at home. Turn on a radio, TV or stereo to distract them from any outside revelry (many folks swear by classical music and Animal Planet). And be sure all windows are secured so that your pet can't escape if it gets startled.
Cool it: The Fourth of July holiday occurs during one of the hottest summer periods. Animals are susceptible to heat stroke, just like people – a condition that's particularly lethal for dogs. Be sure your pet has plenty of shade and cool water, and limit its exercise. Learn the warning signs of heat stroke, such as excessive panting or drooling, muscle tremors and limited urine output, and contact your veterinarian or emergency veterinary facility immediately if you suspect your pet is suffering from heat stroke.
Know your pet's whereabouts: Pets are part of the family, and their instinct is to be wherever you are, including in the middle of your cookout. Alternate your pet's outdoor, social time with indoor, quiet time. While indoors, give your dog or cat a toy that keeps it occupied, such as a Kong or chew toy. When outdoors, keep your pet with you on a lead or leash at all times. Even if you have an enclosed yard, all it takes is one guest who forgets to close the gate for Fido or Fluffy to slip out of sight.
If you follow these basic, common sense tips you and your pet should have a fun - and safe - Fourth of July.
More pet articles and tips can be found at the Military.com Pet Corner.
About Pets for Patriots Pets for Patriots, Inc., is a registered 501(c)(3) charity that helps service and veteran members of the United States military honorably adopt adult and at-risk shelter pets. Its mission is to consistently give the gifts of fidelity, joy and companionship to both pet and person. Pets for Patriots is one of the only organizations in the country dedicated to both homeless pets and military personnel at any stage of their careers and from all armed forces. The charity is a proud member of the Army AW2 Wounded Warrior Program national community support network, a national partner of the Real Warriors Campaign and is listed by the National Resource Directory for ill and wounded veterans. Visit Pets for Patriots online today and Be A Pet's Hero(TM).
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