The 4th of July is a day of celebration, barbecues, friends, family, and outdoor fun. You may be tempted to let your pet join in on the celebration, but there are certain things to keep in mind for a busy and noisy holiday like the 4th of July. Of course, not everything that’s suitable for humans will be suitable for cats and dogs, so when you’re planning your festivities, keep these things in mind and keep your pets safe!
1. Only use animal-specific sunscreen & insect repellents
Picnics and festivals are common ways to celebrate the 4th of July and, if you are sure there are not going to be any fireworks, you may want to take your pets along. As the mosquitoes swarm and the sun’s rays burn down, remember your pets. They too need protections from the bugs and the sun. You may be tempted to just spray your pet with the same sunscreen and insect repellent you use on yourself, but these products can be incredibly harmful if ingested by pets.
For example, zinc oxide is effective as a sunscreen for you, but it's toxic for dogs and can damage delicate blood cells, resulting in severe anemia; and sunscreens that contain even small amounts of salicylates can mean a trip to the vet for cats. (PetStreet.com, Dr. Ann Hohenhaus, DVM) For pesky pests like flies and mosquitoes, DEET (which is most effective for humans) is toxic to pets and can cause severe diarrhea, vomiting, excessive drooling, lethargy and even seizures.
You can find sunscreens and bug repellents designed specifically for dogs and cats at your local pet store. There are sunscreen wipes and sprays as well as various pet-safe bug sprays, but remember that these products for pets are not regulated by the FDA and may not actually provide as much protection as needed. Avoid the strongest sun and provide pets with adequate shade, between 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and monitor your pet closely throughout the day.
2. Do not put glow jewelry on your pets
Glow-in-the-dark glasses and necklaces may look cute on your dog, but the luminescent substance inside the jewelry is highly toxic. Dogs could easily chew their way through a piece of jewelry and end up ingesting large pieces of plastic as well as the harmful glowing substance.
3. Keep alcohol away from pets
During parties, it’s easy to leave a few cups of half-empty beer around, but if you have a pet, it’s very important to keep alcoholic drinks out of their reach. A spilled drink or cup left on the ground could lead to your pet lapping some of it up. Alcohol is poisonous to dogs and can lead to comas and even death in severe cases. Keep an eye out for unmonitored drinks and watch for that inevitable sot who thinks it's funny to see animals drunk.
4. Make sure your dog is easy to identify
Double check your pet’s tags and make sure they are securely fastened. If they don’t have a microchip, consider getting them one. Even well trained dogs are prone to jump fences and break free of leashes when they hear fireworks. And the very slowest of cats can quickly slip your grasp and dart into traffic or find themselves at the wrong end of teasing and/or (heaven forbid) torture.
Animal shelters around the US report that July 5th is the busiest day of the year. Terrified pets run away, get loose, and get lost (14 Ways to Help Prevent the Loss or Theft of Fido), which results in injured and unclaimed animals filling up the shelters.
Of course, ideally, your pet wouldn’t get lost at all, which brings us to our next point.
5. Keep your pets indoors
The easiest and only sure way to keep pets safe during the 4th of July, is to keep them at home and inside. Indoors, they will be away from crowds, noises, and harmful substances that they could ingest accidentally.
Even within the safety of home, many pets are terrified of the flashing colors and thunderous booms which, to them, signify danger - not celebration. Provide them with a sanctuary in a windowless room or, if that is not possible, diffuse the bright flashes by closing the blinds and drapes and turning on all of the lights.
Buffer the outdoor noises with calming music and provide some comfort items such as favorite toys, pillows, blankets, and treats to keep them busy. There are also many products available to help with anxiety brought on by loud noise, including herbal calming drops, anti-anxiety vests and even, ear muffs with sound deadening foam.
If you are not going to be home with them during the evening hours, consider asking a friend to come over or hiring a pet sitter. Leaving your pet behind when you are having fun is hard, but they will be much happier snuggled up in a familiar place where they feel safe, and you will be freer to enjoy your events and activities without worry. It's the old win, win.
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