With each passing day becoming longer, lighter, and warmer, it’s only natural for us Midwesterners to start firing up our grills and inviting friends and family over to enjoy the summer. One of my favorite celebrations of the summer is Independence Day, filled with barbecues and fireworks. As pet owners, however, it is important to keep in mind the health and safety of our furry (and feathered, and scaled…) friends during the Fourth of July.
To us, festive flashes of light and loud bangs and pops mean “party!” But pets are hard- wired to be terrified of fireworks, so it’s best to keep your pet safe at home during firework displays. A secure kennel or a safe, escape-proof room should do the trick. If your pet suffers from extreme anxiety during firework season, you may wish to discuss the use of anti-anxiety medication or the use of a ThunderShirt with your family vet (Reminder: NEVER give your pet medication unless under the direct supervision of a licensed veterinarian!).
2. BBQ Safety
Barbecues, while delicious and enjoyable, come with their fair share of pet hazards. Alcohol, sharp barbecue tools, citronella candles, and insect repellent are all items that we should keep far away from our pets. Again, it is safest to keep your pet in the house, in a safe and secured location. However, if this is not possible, the next best thing is to keep anything hazardous far out of your pet’s reach. Don’t apply insect repellent to your pets, unless it is made for pets. Citronella candles and insect repellent both contain chemicals that can anything from nausea, drooling, and tummy upset to difficulty breathing, tremors, seizures, and coma in severe cases. Keep alcohol and sharp objects high and out of reach of your pets. Pets with a history of asthma or other respiratory disease should be kept indoors and away from smoke or aerosols.
3. Tags and Microchips
Since summer is full of scary noises and party-goers coming in and out of the house, take the time to ensure that your pets have identification. Cats and dogs should wear collars with accurate ID information. Additionally, if your pet is not microchipped, talk about it with your family veterinarian. If your pet is already microchipped, now is a great time to make sure the contact info the microchip servicer has for you is still accurate. According to one microchip servicer, 1 in 3 pets goes missing during its lifetime, and thousands of pets are reunited with their families monthly with the use of microchips (and updated contact information!). As an emergency veterinarian, I see so many lost or stray pets that come in with either no identifying information (no collars, tags, microchips) or out-of-date microchip information. These are easy and inexpensive ways to decrease the risk of losing your loved one forever.
4. Dietary Indiscretion
Hot dogs, potato salad, corn cobs, cheeseburgers, coleslaw, french fries, ice cream… all delicious summer treats that should be saved for human consumption only. It can be tempting to feed table scraps to your pets during summer celebrations, but the best thing for your pet is to stick to his or her regular diet. Any human food can upset your pet’s delicate gastrointestinal tract and cause vomiting, diarrhea, or in severe cases, pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). Additionally, corn cobs are notorious getting stuck in the stomach or intestine, requiring surgical removal, and should be kept far, far away from your pets!
5. Water Safety
If you plan to take your pet to the beach, lake, or on a boat this holiday, take a moment to think about your pet’s safety in the water. Invest in a properly-sized pet life jacket and keep your pet secured and inside the boat at all times. Be especially careful around moving motors to prevent serious injury. Additionally, be on the lookout for blue-green algae, which is a highly toxic form of algae that can grow in lakes, ponds, and streams in Minnesota. If in doubt about the type of algae, keep your pet away from the shore, as just a few laps of this water can kill your pet.
Hopefully, with the tips above both you and your pets can safely enjoy the Fourth of July and the rest of the summer season together. Remember that if you find your pet in an emergency situation, both our Oakdale and St. Paul locations are open 24/7!