Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Keep your pets safe during independence day

4th of July is almost here, and for most Americans that means fun, barbecues, and fireworks. The holiday is less appreciated by most pets; what's fun for us can be outright horrifying for cats and dogs.

Fireworks and firecrackers are the biggest problems for pets at this time a year. Don't underestimate a pet's ability to flee from perceived danger. If fireworks or firecrackers scare your dog, they have an uncanny ability to get out and seek a "safer" place. Keep your pet inside, in a room where they can't get out or hurt themselves.

Make sure your pets can't bolt out of the front door if people come and go. Your yard might be secure enough for your pets on the other days of the year, but when it comes to fireworks they get astonishing abilities to climb and jump.

If your cat or dog seeks out their safe place in a crate or even under the bed, leave them be. Extreme behavior from humans - even if it's intended to calm the pet - can reinforce their sense of danger. Keep a radio or TV on as background sound to cover some of the noise from the outside.

Check that your pet's tags and microchip information is up to date. This will increase your chance of getting him or her back if they get out anyway.

Desensitize your pet to fireworks

You can help desensitize your pet for fireworks, and the following is good to keep in mind for all firework holidays:

Find a video of fireworks and play it on low volume a few times during the day. Give your dog treats, play, and cuddle while the video is playing. The purpose of this is to associate the sound with something positive.

Increase the volume slowly. Keep doing fun things every time you play it. If your dog shows fear at any time, turn the volume back down. Keep the positive reinforcement of treats and play coming.

Desensitizing doesn't always make the fear go away. When it's time for the actual fireworks, try to drown out the sound and allow your pet to hide if he or she wants to.

Some dogs have severe firework anxiety. Discuss with your veterinarian to see if anti-anxiety medication is right for your furry friend.

Other holiday dangers for pets

To start with, remember that many human delicacies aren't suitable for pets and can make them sick. If you have guests that like to feed your dog or cat it can be a good idea to provide small training treats or similar that's okay for the pet to eat.

Also be careful with insect repellants around pets. If they need mosquito repellant or similar, use a kind that is made for pets. Citronella candles, oils, and similar are harmless to humans, but can cause respiratory problems in cats and dogs.

If you spend a lot of time outside in the heat with your pets, watch out for signs of heatstroke. Read more about that here.

Do you do something special to prepare your pets for the holiday?

~ Maria Sadowski ~

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