Arts & Leisure

Summer celebrations can often distress pets

Fireworks, barbecues and heat can be a dangerous trio for pets. As the state begins to ease COVID-19 restrictions, friends and family will begin to gather again and with the Fourth of July rapidly approaching, barbecues and fireworks may be on the agenda. While most people love the festivities, fireworks, barbeques and heat of day can all pose issues for dogs, cats, horses and even livestock, which can react to fireworks in ways that could potentially cause injury and sometimes death. Some simple precautions at these gatherings can help keep your animals safe.
Whether you’re attending a barbecue where there will be fireworks or at home, pets shouldn’t be left alone outdoors, even if tethered or in a fenced-in yard. It’s not uncommon for dogs to injure themselves in a frenzied attempt to escape. Many animal shelters report increases of stray intakes after the Fourth of July due to the number of pets running away to avoid noise and excitement.
If you are planning to attend a fireworks celebration, leave pets at home. Keep dogs and cats indoors, in an interior room without windows. Turn on the TV or radio to provide distraction. Keep horses in their stalls if possible and consider talking with your veterinarian about prescribing mild sedatives during this time. Be sure that your pet has current ID tags and/or a microchip so that you and your pet can be easily reunited in case it runs off. 
Some pets may become fearfully aggressive due to the loud noises, so protect pets from kids who may not realize the consequences of waving sparklers or setting off home fireworks. If your pet is fearful during fireworks, never punish this behavior but don’t reinforce it either by trying to sooth the pet by saying things like “It’s OK.” Paying attention to your pet may positively reinforce the fearful behavior. 
If hosting or attending a barbeque or picnic and dogs are present, everyone must keep an eye on them so they don’t get into trouble. One serious concern at barbecues is the grill: dogs will often try to jump up and steal the food from the grill, leading to severe burns. They will also try to lick and eat the grease-covered rocks under the grill, leading to stomach upset and possibly an intestinal blockage. Not only can people food lead to stomach upset, but grapes, chocolate, onions and garlic can be toxic to them. Placing notes on exit doors and gates can help both you and your guests remain vigilant.
Finally, since it is summer, it may get too warm or humid for pets at a party. They should be kept inside when it’s extremely hot out and they should always have access to shade and water when outdoors. It’s easy to get caught up in the festivities and miss the signs of heat stroke. If you have concerns about your animals during July Fourth celebrations, talk with your veterinarian about the best ways to keep your pets safe.
 

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