Independence Day is a few days away, so that means BBQs, lawn chairs, and a few cold ones.
It also means fireworks and this is where the festivities tend to take a negative turn for a lot of our four-legged friends.
More pets go missing on Fourth of July than any other day of the year.
In addition, the APCC (Animal Poison Control Center) always sees a spike in calls when pets get themselves into trouble eating fireworks or even more innocently, when we share some scraps off the grill with them unknowingly giving them foods that aren’t safe for dogs.
HOW CAN YOU PREPARE?
There are steps you can take to help your dog get through this holiday a little easier.
MOVE TO COLLECCHIO, ITALY
This town in Italy has taken some very forward thinking steps to help be respectful to it’s resident animals…The local government has created a law that the town is only permitted to use silent fireworks, helping reduce the stress that it causes not only to pets, but wildlife in the area.
Ok, but more seriously…
Some folks take this time to get out of town! Pitching a tent and enjoying nature’s light show instead is a great idea and one that both you and your dog can enjoy stress free.
If you do plan on sticking around, it’s wise to be prepared.
BE MINDFUL OF WHAT THEY EAT
Is your dog that kid that eats paste at school? It’s ok, some dogs love tasting new and unusual things, so it’s our job to make sure that they don’t eat anything that could be harmful.
- Fireworks contain a lot of icky chemicals and heavy metals which are obviously not great when ingested. Make sure you keep them out of reach and that you thoroughly clean up debris afterwards.
- Also be mindful of what you share from your plate, especially if your dog isn’t used to table scraps since sudden changes in a dogs diet could cause an upset stomach and subsequently a sudden change in your plans for the night.
- Make sure your guests are aware of the rules when it comes to feeding the dog
- In addition, certain foods like avocados, onions, grapes/raisins and chocolate (to name a few) can be toxic.
- Cooked bones are a massive no-no. They are choking hazards and when chewed, splinter into shards that can cause serious damage to your dogs mouth, throat or intestines.
Because we’re not monsters, here are some things your dog can enjoy with you:
- Apples (without the seeds)
- Apricots (without the pits)
- Sweet Potato
WHAT TO DO FOR DOGS WHO AREN’T FANS OF THE BOOM-BOOMS
The biggest concern for most dog owners during this holiday are the fireworks, but more specifically the reaction their dogs have to fireworks. A lot of dogs experience a great deal of stress with fireworks. Fortunately, there’s a lot we can do to prepare before, during and after the festivities to help our dogs out.
- Make sure your dog is wearing up to date identification tags
- Make sure that your contact information is up to date if your dog has a microchip. This will make it easier for them to contact you in the event that they are lost and scanned for a chip
- Create a safe and secure environment. Meaning, make sure the yard is secure - neighbors could set off fireworks at odd times so it’s good to know that the yard is secure.
- You can also scope out your options before the fireworks begin and create a safe space where your dog can feel secure.
- Exercise your dog well during the day to wear them out before the fireworks start
If your dog is joining you outside for any part of the festivities…
- Make sure to use pet-friendly insect repellants and sunscreens to make sure your dog doesn’t get sick
- Keep them on lead at all times - even if your dog isn’t scared. Fireworks going off at random times of the day/afternoon can be startling and cause a dog who isn’t afraid to bolt. In the right circumstances, a dog who’s never been afraid before can run, so it’s best to keep your dog on lead at all times if they’re going to join you outside.
- Again, it’s also very important that they have proper ID on if they are going to be outside
- If you’re setting off fireworks, you should keep your pet a safe distance from them - this goes for matches and open fires as well
- Keep contact information for your vet handy in case you have an emergency
Best practice is to leave your four-legged friend at home for this one. Even the most confident dog can have a moment of panic and react by running.
- If you’re not going to be home with your dog, having a friend or sitter around is a good idea. The company can help your dog feel safe and be able to go out for secure/supervised potty breaks if needed.
- Keep windows and doors closed to help minimize the sounds
- Close dog doors to keep them from getting outside on their own
- Drawing the curtains and putting on the tv can help them feel more secure and drown out the noise
- Stay calm yourself - acting normal will help them see that nothing is wrong
- Use treats like Kongs or treat dispensing toys can help keep them occupied and distracted
- The burrito technique - some dogs respond really well to being wrapped up. This snug option has a great calming effect on some dogs.
- If your dog wants to hide, let them - don’t force them to come out - just as long as you know where they are at all times
- Alternatively, you prepare a “den” for them. Covering a crate with a blanket and putting one of your sweaters in there will give them a space to feel comfortable in
For very nervous dogs, you might want to medicate your dog to help them get through the evening. If this is the case, we suggest that you talk with your vet about your options in advance.
After the celebrations it’s a good idea to check your yard or anywhere your dog has access to for debris that could be dangerous. Even if you didn’t set off fireworks, nearby debris could make it’s way onto your property. If you had guests, this could also be food scraps or other items that could be dangerous, such as food skewers.
No matter how you spend your holiday weekend, we hope you all have a safe and happy 4th of July!