How to celebrate Independence Day with your pets

The Independence Holiday weekend is typically all about fun in the sun, BBQ and of course, fireworks.

All of this can be lots of fun for people, but not much fun for our pets.

According to The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), nearly one-in-five lost pets first go missing after being scared by the sound of fireworks, thunderstorms or other loud noises.

Make sure your cat or dog is wearing a collar and identification tag with your current contact information, so you can be reunited quickly if your pet does escape. You can also write your name and phone number in permanent ink on the inside of your pet's collar, just in case the tags get lost. All pets, even those kept indoors full-time, should wear collars with identification tags at all times. Indoor-only animals can become so frightened during fireworks displays that they take desperate measures to escape the noise, such as breaking through window or door screens.

Also, consider microchipping your pets.

"Losing your pet is heartbreaking, but there are other dangers lurking in your own backyard that might not cross your mind as you celebrate this 4th of July," said Dr. Tina Wismer, medical director of the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. "It's critical that pet owners consider their animals' well-being during holiday celebrations, and when enjoying the outdoors all season long."

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center offers the following tips:
  • Never leave alcoholic drinks unattended where pets can reach them. Alcoholic beverages have the potential to poison pets. 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.

  • 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 even kidney disease in severe cases. 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 who 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.

Remember, the 4th of July festivities can be enjoyed by your ENTIRE family, with some extra thought and planning.
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