The Fourth of July is a favorite holiday of Americans. For their pets, not so much. Begin with the heat, move on to the fireworks and it’s all pretty much downhill from there. Kirsten Hrobsky – director of operations at The Spot Experience, a leading pet services provider in the metro area – has some dos and don’ts to keep dogs safe throughout the long weekend’s festivities:
- Keep dogs out of the heat and be aware of signs for heat exhaustion. – July is hot whether your pets are indoors or outside. It is important to know the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke and monitor dogs frequently. Long-coated, overweight, elderly and frail dogs will be extra sensitive to the heat so extra caution must be taken. Keep your dog’s living space at a comfortable temperature and, of course, never leave him in a car or outside without shelter. Keep in mind that if pavement is too hot for you to stand on comfortably while barefoot, it’s too hot for your dog’s feet, too. Stick to grass or cement walks rather than blacktop. For active dogs, limit jogging or hard exercise to the cooler hours of the day.
- If you have to be outside all day, take precautions. – If you’ll be in the sun all day, your dogs are doing it, too, but they’re wearing a fur coat. At a minimum, create sufficient shade for them and have bottled water and a bowl with you at all times. There are cooling vests and “chill pads” on the market which can help keep dogs cool, but when in doubt about temperatures, keep pets home in a safely cooled environment. Thin-coated, hairless or white-pigmented dogs are more susceptible to sunburn so keep them covered up and limit time in the sun.
- Avoid fireworks. – Loud, booming fireworks can panic dogs. If you know that your dog is noise-phobic, plan on staying home with him on the Fourth of July. To lessen a canine’s anxiety, owners can try a Thundershirt and, if appropriate, ask their vet about possible medication to help lower anxiety….If you must leave your dog home alone, secure him indoors away from exterior doors and windows and play music to mask outdoor noise. Please do not bring dogs to fireworks displays, which are usually loud and crowded, making dogs panic so they are more likely to run away from their owners while trying to seek shelter.
- Keep dogs away from human food. – Fourth of July picnics can be a great place to bring your furry family members, but it is important to keep dogs away from all human food and make sure trash is secured. Barbecue staples, including cooked chicken or rib bones, anything sweetened with xylitol or chocolate, can be poisonous. If you’re grilling, it is advised to keep your dog at a safe distance until the grill is completely cooled.