Life, liberty and the pursuit of pet safety

Every Fourth of July, my family and I drag seats into our backyard on Lake Huron of the Great Lakes, open several bags of popcorn and enjoy the show. In any direction you look, colorful fireworks shoot up into the air, lanterns float in the sky and neighbors are enjoying a bonfire. It’s a beautiful celebration of America’s history of freedom, and one we all look forward to. Everyone except my dog, Chewbacca.

Chewbacca is a naturally skittish thing and fireworks make her paranoia about life so much worse. But she isn’t the only dog who has ever been afraid of fireworks. So here are some tips to keep your pet safe during this holiday weekend:

  1. Pets don’t usually associate fireworks with celebration. They can panic when they hear loud whizzes and bangs. So, while this seems obvious, be sure to keep your pets inside. Keeping them in dark spaces with no windows may calm their nerves. This is especially the case if you’re going to a fireworks display away from the home. On top of their nerves from loud noises, being in a crowded and unfamiliar place could agitate them even more.

    Chewbacca's face of fear during a recent thunderstorm.

    Chewbacca’s face of fear during a recent thunderstorm.

  2. Do not leave your pet in a car for long periods of time. Just like humans, your pets can get heatstroke and even die from being in hot cars. Days above 90°F and/or with high humidity are of special concern. Dogs sweat through their paws, but this isn’t always enough to rid the body of heat. When that isn’t enough, they pant. As they pant, hot air leaves the body, but this can only make the heat inside the car that much worse for your four-legged friends. A good tip: If your pet cannot come with you when you when you get out of the car, leave your pet at home.
  3. If you’re using pesticides to ward away insects for you, be sure to keep your pet’s safety in mind as well. Remove pets, toys, bones, food bowls and any bedding from the area before spraying. Wait until the area is completely dry and well ventilated before returning items to the space. For more tips on pesticide use around pets, click here. Citronella candles, insect coils and other oil products to detract insects are also toxic to your pet.
  4. Should your pet be more relaxed around fireworks, still use caution. Fireworks left unattended could be consumed—these combustible products can sometimes contain arsenic, potassium nitrate and other potentially toxic materials. Recently-lit fireworks can cause burns or other trauma to the face or paws. Same goes for matches, lighters and lighter fluid—these products are not safe for your pet to consume, so keep these away.
  5. No table food! Read this blog post on some common household foods that can be toxic to your pet, including avocados and grapes.
  6. Be sure your pet is properly tagged or microchipped should they slip through a fence or become detached from their leash. (Bonus tip: Keep a tight grip on your animal’s leash! Even the smallest noise could cause them to get scared and want to run.)  It is also important to keep an up-to-date photo of your pet in the case that you need to make a lost pet flyer.

Keep these tips in mind when celebrating to have a happy and safe Fourth of July!

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