Friday, June 28, 2013

Fourth of July Safety Tips

            The Fourth of July is just days away, and for many people, nothing beats lounging in the backyard with good friends and family—including the four-legged ones. While you may want to reward your pet with scraps from the grill or bring them along to watch the fireworks, take a minute to think. Some festive foods and products can be potentially hazardous to your pets. Here are some tips you can use this Fourth of July.
·         Never leave alcoholic drinks unattended where pets can reach them. Alcoholic beverages have the potential to poison your pet. If ingested, the animal could become very intoxicated and weak, severely depressed or could go into a coma. Death from respiratory failure is also a possibility in severe cases.
·         Do not apply any sunscreen or insect repellent product to your pet that is not labeled specifically for use on animals. Ingestion of sunscreen products can result in drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst and lethargy. The misuse of insect repellent that contains DEET can lead to neurological problems. Keeping your pets up to date on flea, tick, and heartworm medication will help prevent anything they might pick up while outdoors.
·         Always keep matches and lighter fluid out of your pets’ reach. Certain types of matches contain chlorates, which could potentially damage blood cells and result in difficulty breathing—or in severe cases, even kidney disease. Lighter fluid can be irritating to skin, and if ingested can produce gastrointestinal irritation and central nervous system depression. If lighter fluid is inhaled, aspiration pneumonia and breathing problems could develop.
·         Keep your pets on their normal diet. Any change, even for one meal, can give your pets severe indigestion and diarrhea. This is particularly true for older animals that have more delicate digestive systems and nutritional requirements. And keep in mind that foods such as onions, chocolate, coffee, avocado, grapes, raisins, salt, and yeast dough can all be potentially toxic to companion animals.
·         Do not put glow jewelry on your pets, or allow them to play with it. While the luminescent substance contained in these products is not highly toxic, excessive drooling and gastrointestinal irritation could still result from ingestions, and intestinal blockage could occur from swallowing large pieces of the plastic containers.
·         Keep citronella candles, insect coils and oil products out of reach. Ingestions can produce stomach irritation and possibly even central nervous system depression. If inhaled, the oils could cause aspiration pneumonia in pets.
·         Never use fireworks around pets! While exposure to lit fireworks can potentially result in severe burns and/or trauma to the face and paws of curious pets, even unused fireworks can pose a danger. Many types contain potentially toxic substances, including potassium nitrate, arsenic and other heavy metals.
·         Loud, crowded fireworks displays are no fun for pets, so please resist the urge to take them to Independence Day festivities. Instead, keep your little guys safe from the noise in a quiet, sheltered and escape-proof area at home.

It is important to know when fireworks will be happening and how they'll impact your home. Contact your local municipality to find out when your area is likely to have fireworks. Mark the dates on a calendar so that you can keep track of when to ensure your pets are cared for. If you know or suspect that the fireworks will be heard at your house, take precautions such as checking that your pets' ID tags and microchips are up to date. This way, if your pet does go running off during the firework events, it will be much easier for your pet to be identified and returned home.
Also remember to prepare your house. The house becomes your pets' safety zone, so it's important to prepare it properly. Keeping a light on will calm your pet and make him feel more secure, rather than being scared in a dark room. Plan to use familiar sounds to drown out the noise of the fireworks. Music or the sound from your TV are likely a familiar sounds that can sooth your pet, some say that the sound of rainwater is very soothing to pets. Just make sure not to play these sounds ridiculously loud as they can become bothersome themselves.
You should confine your pet. This does not mean you need to crate your pet, but they should be confined to one room or area of the house, unless you plan to pet proof your whole house!  Half an hour to an hour before the fireworks are due to be set off, place your pet into the chosen room. If you're concerned about not being able to locate your pet (for example, cats aren't always easy to find), consider finding your pet several hours earlier. Mealtime is a good time to round up every pet, provided it falls before the fireworks are set off. If your dog needs a walk, be sure to them before confining them. Even if your pet is normally crated in a different room than what you have selected, place the crate into the secure and comfortable room you've selected. Close the curtains or blinds in the room and cover the crate with a thick blanket, but make sure it is breathable so your animal doesn't suffocate. This will also help to stop the flashes of light affecting your pet.
When choosing a specific room for your pet, remember to select a suitable room where you will contain the pets for the duration of the fireworks. An inner room that is least impacted by the noise is ideal. It should be a room that you can close off to prevent your pet from running about the house and injuring itself, wrecking furniture, etc. If you have more than one pet, be sure they don't mind being confined in the same room, or select several rooms for different pets. For example, dogs and cats will usually appreciate being kept separate.     
Make the room cozy. Put down familiar, clean bedding somewhere pleasant such as under a table, on or behind a chair, etc. Add some familiar chew toys, scratch pads, balls, etc., to keep your pets amused and distracted. Ensure that the room temperature is pleasant. Some pet experts say to use lavender. This is optional, but you might like to use lavender scented items to help calm your pet. Just make sure that it's out of reach of your pet. Using heated scent oils or incense is not recommended, frantic pets can knock them over and start a fire or injure themselves Don’t forget to add a litter tray for cats. And remove any sharp items from the room in case your pet starts jumping or running around.
Provide plenty of food, and a sufficient amount of water for your pet in the confinement space. Many pets will be uneasy, or even frantic. If your pet has access to water, it will help calm him, and food supplied in your pet's regular portion will make him feel like it's a normal day.
It is also important to remember to prepare yourself. In the desire to ease our pet's pain, sometimes we can transfer some of our anxiety to our pets. If you've prepared properly in advance, there is no need to feel upset and worried as you can be reassured about the safety of your pet.
You should check on your pet after the fireworks. Reassure them and remove the protection (blankets, etc.) as long as you're sure that the loud fireworks are over. Let them have free run of the house to see how he or she behaves before considering letting them return outside. If possible, it might be best to wait until morning. Because although your local firework show may be over, some partygoers may be letting off their own fireworks late into the night.

Always do a yard sweep before letting your pets back outside. Collect any sparklers, firecrackers, etc., as well as party items and broken objects. This will prevent your pet from ingesting or being injured by unfamiliar objects.