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The 4th of July is a time to celebrate independence, enjoy barbeques and watch fireworks light up the sky. Sadly, it is the #1 day in which pets get lost and end up in shelters. Chances are, a high-kill shelter.
Many celebrations in the Chicago area begin before the 4th of July, so it is important to use caution even days before the holiday.
From dogs to cats and even horses, this is typically not a time of year that animals feel safe. The loud noises of fireworks spark, no pun intended, fear into animals.
Keeping identification on your pets during this time of year is extremely important. Make sure all tags have a current address, phone number and email. If your pet is micro-chipped, make sure that you have let your pet recovery service know if there have been any changes since the microchip was placed.
According to the American Kennel Club Companion Recovery Service, the 4th of July the most active time of year for pet recovery. Dogs are most susceptible, as they tend to get scared at the sound of the fireworks and run away.
Several Chicago area publications, such as The Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times and animal advocacy Facebook groups have offered advice to keep your pets safe during the holiday weekend. (Please also see link at the end of the article to help pets that become homeless during the holiday weekend.)
The SEAACA has issued helpful tips to pet owners across the United States and is encouraging cross-posting and publications to share knowledge in their “Keep Your Pets Safe This 4th Of July And All Summer Long” campaign.
1. Beware of fireworks. Fireworks are no blast for some pets, with many cats and dogs becoming easily frightened by the deafening roar of rockets bursting in air. The best option is to leave your cat or dog indoors (not leashed in the yard) during the holiday weekend (July 1-4) in a safe, secure, escape-proof room of the house with comfy bed, food and water. Also consider leaving a TV or radio on to drown out the sound of the fireworks and to provide familiar noises while you’re out.
2. Confirm your pet’s collar and I.D. information. Dogs and other pets can become easily frightened by loud celebrations on the 4th of July. Make sure your pet is wearing a properly fitted collar with correct identification and tags just in case he or she becomes scared and runs away from home. Micro-chipping also is a great precaution to make it easier for your pet to be returned home safely and promptly.
3. Be careful with 4th of July decorations. Remember that your pet may easily mistake your red, white and blue decorations and glow sticks as chew toys; cats can even become tangled in streamers and ribbon. Make sure to pet-proof your home and keep fun decorations out of a paw’s reach.
4. Call your vet. If you think your pet needs to be sedated or tranquilized to handle the fireworks noise and celebrations, contact your animal care provider.
5. Watch the alcohol. Alcoholic beverages have the potential to poison pets; never leave your beverage unattended. If alcohol is ingested, your pet could become very intoxicated and weak, severely depressed, and could go into a coma or worse.
6. No picnic table and grill scraps. Always be aware of what friends and family are sneaking to your dog under the table. While tempting on such a festive occasion, human food (bones, onions, avocado, grapes and raisins) should be off limits at all times to your dog. Some human food may be toxic or dangerous if ingested and cause stomach upset.
7. Never leave animals tethered or chained outside. Pets can injure or hang themselves if they jump around or leap over a fence while trying to run from the noises. Cats should stay indoors.
8. Never leave pets in unattended parked car. Partially opened windows on hot days do not provide sufficient airflow and also can put your pet in jeopardy of being stolen.
9. Stay in the shade. Like humans, dogs and other pets can suffer from heatstroke. Keep your pets in shaded areas on very hot and warm days.
10. Stay hydrated. Dehydration is the #1 concern and danger during those long summer heat waves. Make sure you have a generous amount of fresh water on hand to quench your dog’s thirst.
Chicago Animal Welfare Examiner