In The Caring Vet Column, Dr. Jeff Werber offers some ideas for keeping our pets safe during the upcoming 4th of the July holiday.
For most of us, the 4th of July is a blast! We have a day off from work, we often have a BBQ with all the goodies that go with it—including the apple pie, then we get to top it all off with some great fireworks displays. For many of our pets, however, this may not be the best day on the calendar!
Firstly, some of the delicious foods we eat may pose a problem for our pets. Some of the meats may be too fatty which could cause pancreatitis—a very serious condition, and the bones may be too soft like chicken bones, or may be too sharp and may splinter like beef or pork bones, which can cause gastrointestinal problems. Those corncobs that you toss into the trash can be very dangerous to dogs because if eaten, they often lodge somewhere in the small intestine causing a complete blockage and often serious intestinal damage. Those yummy desserts may be too rich as well, or contain toxins like chocolate. Keep your pets safe around the grill and keep them away from tables full of the “people” foods.
As bad as some of the foods can be, for many dogs and cats, the fireworks pose a much greater concern. It’s amazing how many pets are affected by the fireworks—the loud sounds and the flashing lights. They seem to hear them way before we do, and if they are afraid, you can easily notice them shaking or hiding. Many will actually try to bolt out of an open door or window to try and find safety. These pets are at risk for getting lost or being hit by a car. I recommend you keep your pets safely indoors during the fireworks shows, in a comfortable room with some of their own toys to serve as distractions. It might also be a good idea to keep the TV or stereo on to help drown out the loud fireworks sounds. Make sure they are always wearing their collars with their ID tags, and are microchipped just in case they out-smart you and find an escape route outside.
If you know from experience that your pets panic or become extremely anxious, you may want to get some mild sedatives from your veterinarian, or use some more natural calming alternatives like the Pro-Sense Anti-Stress Calming Tabs. There are also some pheromone products available for both dogs and cats that are very effective as calming agents. Try not to coddle your dog too much as this may serve to reinforce their fearful behavior. There are actually very effective ways to desensitize your dogs to the sounds of fireworks, but you’ll need some time do successfully train them. We’ll work on this next year a few months before the 4th!
Hope you, and your pets have a great, safe, July 4th holiday.
-Jeff Werber, DVM
Chief Veterinarian, Pro-Sense Pet Products
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