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Keeping Your Pet Safe this Summer

By Dr. Carly
Hot Dogs. Fireworks. Barbeques. Pool Parties. Emergency veterinary visit?  Did you know that the 5th of July is one of the busiest days for veterinarians and animal shelters?  More pets get lost on the 4th of July than any other day of the year from the exciting, but confusing visits of friends and family and explosive fireworks.

Here are some tips to keep your beloved pets healthy and safe this summer:

  • Have updated ID tags on your dog’s and cat’s collar.  In case your pet does go missing, it’s imperative to have your contact information on the collar.  Additionally, have a current photo of your pooch or kitty in case you need to enlist the help of your community to find your pet.
  • Place notes on doors or gates as friends visit to gently remind them to keep your furry friends inside and not to offer them any extra snacks.
  • Don’t give your pets any table scraps. As delicious as hot dogs and hamburgers are, they are high in fat and can cause indigestion, diarrhea, and even pancreatitis, a medical condition from eating fatty foods that needs to be treated as an emergency in dogs.  Most people know chocolate is dangerous for dogs, but foods like grapes or raisins can permanently damage their kidneys, garlic and onions can cause their red blood cells to burst, avocado seeds and peach pits lead to intestinal blockage needing surgical repair, and hot grease dripped from grills when licked up can burn pets’ tongues and throats.
  • Don’t bring your dog to your fireworks celebration. Dogs are much more sensitive to the loud explosions from fireworks with their developed hearing (dogs can hear double the range of noise we can) and can suffer severe anxiety.  Before you leave, place your pets in a confined area, such as a crate or small room with their bed, where they feel safe.  Offer new toys or frozen treats and turn on the TV or radio or better yet, Through a Dog’s Ear calming music made specifically to calm dog’s heart rates down; as some background noise.
  • Come up with a plan with your veterinarian. If your pet suffers from serious thunderstorm or firework anxiety, talk with your veterinarian for behavior modification strategies in conjunction with anxiety medications.  You can also try over the counter calming pheromones like D.A.P or Feliway.  These release odorless substances that can work on dogs or cats to relieve some stress.
  • Beat the heat!  Exercise your pets early on in the day and never leave them in the car.  In as little as eight minutes, a car in the middle of summer can reach temperatures over 120° degrees!
  • Bugged by bugs?  Make sure your pet (even your indoor pet!) has current flea, tick and heartworm prevention.  Ticks in this area can carry Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and other major diseases.  Bug spray labeled for people is toxic to use on dogs.  Beware of lighting citronella candles near your dog as ingestion and inhalation can both be toxic.
  • Check your yard for firework debris and food scraps after the celebration.

By preparing this summer holiday, you and man’s best friend can have a fun-filled and fiasco-free vacation!

This post originally appeared on Dr. Carly’s blog here. It was reprinted with permission.