The time-honored summer holiday that falls on July Fourth is a time of celebration for Minnesotans, but it can be dangerous for companion animals in the state.
Following traditional Independence Day firework displays, local Twin Cities Metro animal shelters fill up with dogs and cats that have run away from home, scared by the explosions and fire in the sky. Minneapolis-area veterinarians also receive a higher number of calls about and cases of pets eating foods and drinking liquids that could make them sick or even kill them.
Fortunately, most of the dangers surrounding 4th of July events can be mitigated to prevent pets from fleeing, being burned or getting sick.
- Fireworks and pets are a bad combination. A majority of dogs are frightened by fireworks and will try to run away from the fire and explosions. Even those curious dogs that show no fear could be in danger of serious burns and other injuries if not restrained. Unused fireworks and the remnants of exploded fireworks can pose a danger, as many contain toxic substances.
- Maintain their usual diet. Changes in diet can give a pet a case of indigestion or diarrhea. Furthermore, foods and liquids that humans love, such as avocado, chocolate, coffee, grapes, onions, raisins, salt and yeast dough, can all cause toxic reactions in dogs and cats. Let them enjoy visiting company, but keep them to their normal food.
- Drinks are dangerous for pets. Alcohol has the potential to poison pets. Untended alcoholic drinks left with the reach of pets can be gulped down in a few seconds before anyone notices what happened. If ingested, the dog or cat could become intoxicated and suffer from all the same things that a human experiences, up to coma and death.
- Have proper I.D. Ensure all pets have updated and accurate identification tags or microchips in case they manage to run away. I.D. tags will help dogs and cats get home faster, especially if they have run to a nearby yard in the local neighborhood.
- Keep pets at home. Though they like to go for car rides and attend events with humans, the safest place for dogs and cats is inside their homes with the windows and doors closed. Don’t take them to a loud, crowded fireworks display. Do not leave pets outside on a chain or in a fenced yard, as frightened dogs have been known to break tethers and jump fences if fireworks are set off nearby. Don’t let them go in an out with guests attending a party at the home.
- Supervise carefully. If pets are brought along to July Fourth activities, or if events are held in the home where they live, keep them under close supervision indoors and out, and properly secured them with a leash anytime they go outside. This way, not only can pets be kept away from fires and fireworks, they will also be less likely to get a hold of harmful food or drinks.
- Make them comfortable. Set up space with a soft bed, food and water. Make sure they can’t escape by keeping the windows and shades closed to muffle as much noise and block as much light as possible. One idea that has helped others is to leave a television or radio on to provide familiar noises and drown out the explosions happening outside.
With the fireworks, food and festivities, July 4th celebrations can be a blast for humans. Losing a beloved pet in the middle of the fun wouldn’t be the best way to spend the holiday. Keeping pets secured inside and under supervision, animal caretakers can rest assured knowing that their dogs and cats will be safe and healthy at home on the fifth of July.
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