A Safe 4th of July

The 4th of July is an American holiday celebrating our independence from England.  The longthree day weekend can be filled with fireworks, parades, barbecues, carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, baseball games, family reunions, and political speeches and ceremonies asfamily and friends gather to celebrate.  Manypeople like to include their furry family members.  I knowI do!  Please remember that somefestivities can be frightening and some festive foods can be dangerous for your dogs.  I checked with the ASPCA who offers the followingsafety tips:
  • Never leavealcoholic drinks unattended where pets can reach them. Alcoholic beverages havethe potential to poison pets. If ingested, the animal could become veryintoxicated and weak, severely depressed or could go into a coma. Death fromrespiratory failure is also a possibility in severe cases.
  •  Do not apply anysunscreen or insect repellent product to your pet that is not labeledspecifically for use on animals. Ingestion of sunscreen products can result indrooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst and lethargy. The misuse ofinsect repellent that contains DEET can lead to neurological problems.
  • Keep your pets ontheir normal diet. Any change, even for one meal, can give your pets severeindigestion and diarrhea. This is particularly true for older animals who havemore delicate digestive systems and nutritional requirements. And keep in mindthat foods such as onions, chocolate, coffee, avocado, grapes & raisins,salt and yeast dough can all be potentially toxic to companion animals.
  • Do not put glowjewelry on your pets, or allow them to play with it. While the luminescentsubstance contained in these products is not highly toxic, excessive droolingand gastrointestinal irritation could still result from ingestions, andintestinal blockage could occur from swallowing large pieces of the plasticcontainers.
  •  Keep citronellacandles, insect coils and oil products out of reach. Ingestions can producestomach irritation and possibly even central nervous system depression. Ifinhaled, the oils could cause aspiration pneumonia in pets.
  • Never usefireworks around pets! While exposure to lit fireworks can potentially resultin severe burns and/or trauma to the face and paws of curious pets, even unusedfireworks can pose a danger. Many types contain potentially toxic substances,including potassium nitrate, arsenic and other heavy metals.
  • Loud, crowdedfireworks displays are no fun for pets, so please resist the urge to take themto Independence Day festivities. Instead, keep your little guys safe from thenoise in a quiet, sheltered and escape-proof area at home.

More dogs and cats are lost during this holiday than at any other time of the year.  The fear of the loud noises and the lights haveeven been known to frighten animals in their own backyards forcing them to fleepossibly ending up lost or injured.  This behavior is usually unpredictable and out of character, and it may include such things as chewing through a leash, jumping through screens and windows, digging under a fence, jumping over a wall, bolting away, or running into traffic  Knowyour dog and what he or she can handle. If necessary bring them indoors where they will feel moreprotected. Close the windows and pull the drapes shut.  Turn on some music or a television and leave a light on for your pet.

If you are going to any public festivitiesyou really want to share with your dog then use a strong leash attached to a harness rather than a collar so you havecomplete control at all times and make sure he or she has a legible and up-to-date ID tag.  Kirby not only has a tag with his name and my cell phone number but he has been micro-chipped as well.  If you should find an animal that appears lost and can't locate the owner then take it to your local shelter right away so it can be reunited with its owner.

As I have mentioned before Kirby has a calm, balanceddemeanor.  He is practically fearless.  Thunderstorms don’t faze him and he hasbecome accustomed to motorcycles and fireworks. Last New Years Eve we had to keep him inside because he wanted to chasethe fireworks.  The incident thatsurprised us was his reaction at the Cotton District when we settled down in the midst of a gathering tolisten to a rock band a friend was in. When they started playing Kirby couldn’t get out of there fastenough!  It was obvious the musicabsolutely terrified him.  We will neverknow if it was a particular sound or instrument because our only option was toquickly leave as he became too agitated to be reassured. Once we were a short distance away he immediately calmed down.
So have fun and enjoy the festivities with your furry friendbut know the signs of agitation or fear taking immediate steps to make sure heor she feels safe even if that means going home earlier than planned.