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Keeping pets safe on July 4

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Keeping pets safe on July 4

  • Sophie, a proud American pup, at Phoenix National Cemetery, 2010.
    inkkinife_2000/FlickrSophie, a proud American pup, at Phoenix National Cemetery, 2010.

On Independence Day, it is important to remember that what is festive to us may not be so enjoyable for our pets, especially fireworks.

"Each year, the day after the Fourth of July holiday, the Humane Society of Southern Arizona receives an increase of lost dogs and cats," spokeswoman Samantha Esquivel said. In fact, the American Humane Association reports that July 5 is the busiest day of the year for animal shelters.

Unlike their owners, pets don’t associate the loud noise, flashes of light, and burning smell of pyrotechnics with celebrations. Pets will howl, pace, break restraints, jump fences and run long distances in search of safety. If they become agitated enough, animals can do harm to themselves.

In addition to fireworks, holiday events pose several other hazards to pets, including unhealthy foods, alcohol, insect repellent, matches and lighter fluid.

Here are some simple tips to prepare your pets for the party:

  1. Have the proper identification — Get your pet a microchip, ID tags with your pet's name and your phone number, or both. It is also a good idea to have a recent picture of your pets in case you have to put up signs. 
  2. Keep your pets indoors — if they are anxious create a den-like environment such as a crate, walk-in close or room free of windows.
  3. Use aromatherapy — there are dog-friendly aromatherapy sprays and collars on the market to help your pets stay calm.
  4. Turn on the TV or radio — soothing sounds will provide your pets with a distraction from outside noises.
  5. Stay home — your presence provides your pet with comfort and security.
  6. Buy a Thundershirt —  popular with trainers, Thundershirts are used to treat pets with anxiety.
  7. Medication — if your pet is extremely sensitive, consider consulting with your veterinarian about an appropriate sedative.
  8. Don't feed pets table scraps —chocolate, onions, coffee, avocado, grapes, raisins, salt and yeast dough are all possible hazards for dogs and cats.
  9. No drinks for dogs or cocktails for cats — fermented hops and ethanol are poisonous to dogs and cats. If pets consume alcohol they can become dangerously intoxicated, go into a coma, and in extreme cases die of respiratory failure.
  10. Don't use your sunscreen on your pet — what isn’t toxic to humans can be toxic to animals. The ASPCA lists the poisonous effects of sunscreen on your pet as, “rooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst and lethargy.”
  11. Keep pets away from insect control products — oils, candles, insect coils and other citronella-based repellents are irritating toxins to pets, according to the ASPCA. The result of inhalation can cause severe respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia, and ingestion can harm your pet’s nervous system.
  12. Matches and lighter fluid should be off limits —chlorates are a harmful chemical substance found in some matches that, if ingested, can cause your pet difficulty in breathing, damage blood cells or even cause kidney disease. If exposed to lighter fluid, your pet may sustain skin irritation on contact, respiratory problems if inhaled, and stomach problems if ingested.

Sources: The ASPCA,, and the Humane Society of Southern Arizona.

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