Summer months are filled with family and friends, cookouts, parties, pool time, fireworks and vacations. But all that commotion can be upsetting to a pet.
According to the Missing Pet Partnership organization, July has the highest level of reported lost pets. Fireworks, picnics and other Fourth of July traditions can be great fun for people, but all of the festivities can be frightening and even dangerous for animals. Noisy fireworks and other celebrations can startle animals and cause them to run away.
Here are tips for keeping your pet safe and protected on Independence Day and every day of the year:
• It is crucial to make sure both dogs and cats have some form of identification on them. All pets should have identification tags with up-to-date information. Multiple forms of ID work best. Microchips are an excellent form of permanent identification. Baltimore Humane Society’s Low Cost Veterinary Wellness Center will chip your pet for only $25. A visible collar with an identification tag is also invaluable. Include the pet’s name and your best telephone number. If your pet is already microchipped, be sure your contact information is up-to-date in the microchip registry.
• Take a current photo of your pets.
• Have a "safe spot" in your home for your pet to stay in and keep them inside if neighbors are setting off fireworks. Be sure it is secure with no easy access to the outside.
• Prepare some fun food puzzles or stuff some Kong toys and stick them in the freezer for fun "pup"sicles to keep your pets happy and busy throughout the evening.
• Make sure your pets get plenty of exercise throughout the day so they do not have pent up energy that night.
• If you pet has historically been anxious on this holiday, consider behavioral therapy to desensitize. Some pets may need medication.
• DO NOT bring them with you to the fireworks! Fireworks are very loud to us, but even louder to our pets and will easily startle them, triggering their "flight" or fear response. Your pets will be much happier left at home in the comfort of their familiar surroundings.
If your pet runs away —
First, DO NOT run after your pet. If dogs and cats are frightened (which they most likely will be) running after them will trigger that "flight" response again and cause them to run even further. Instead, turn your back and walk away like you want them to chase you, or sit or lay down flat on the ground. Your pet will most likely come to you to investigate what you are doing.
If you come home to find your pet has run away, immediately call the microchip company (if your pet has one) to notify them. Canvas the neighborhood and contact area veterinarians, shelters, and animal control facilities to report your pet missing. Give them fliers with a recent picture, identifying features, and contact information. Be sure to post it on Facebook and other social media lost pet sites.
After the celebration, check your yard for fireworks debris. You don’t want your pet picking it up to play with or eat.
Keep your pets safe! Don’t take a chance on losing them this Fourth of July. But do take a chance on adopting a pet in need of a loving home. In honor of the Fourth of July, Baltimore Humane Society is running its “Take a Chance on Us” Special. Draw a red, white, or blue ticket to see if you receive a 25 percent, 50 percent or 75 percent discounted adoption fee throughout the month of July.
The heat wave we are experiencing can also be dangerous to your pets if you’re not mindful. Remember – if you think it's hot outside, it's even hotter for your pet – make sure your pet has a means of cooling off. When walking, try to stay off of hot surfaces like asphalt because it can burn your dog's paws.
On a lovely 77 degree day, asphalt located in direct sunlight can reach as high as 125 degrees! At this temperature, skin destruction can occur in as little as 60 seconds. It would take five minutes for an egg to fry at 131 degrees. We fortunately, wear shoes that give the bottoms of our feet protection from this, but our pets do not have that luxury. On hot days, stick to short walks on sidewalk/light colored concrete or avoid the hard surfaces all together and walk only on the grass. The tissue that makes up our pets' paw pads is a specialized type that is different than the skin that covers their body and it isn't covered in fur. This leaves it vulnerable to extremely hot surfaces.
• Never, ever leave your dog in the car. Cars can overheat quickly to deadly temperatures.
• Make sure your dog has unlimited access to fresh water.
• Make sure your dog has access to shade when outside.
• Take walks during the cooler hours of the day.
• Keep your dog free of external parasites (fleas, ticks) and heartworms – consult your veterinarian about the best product for your pet.
• Consider clipping or shaving dogs with long coats (talk to your veterinarian first to see if it's appropriate for your pet), and apply sunscreen to your dog's skin if she or he has a thin coat.
• Be sure to seek emergency veterinary care if you observe any of these signs of heat stress: anxiousness, excessive panting, restlessness, excessive drooling, unsteadiness, abnormal gum and tongue color or collapse.
The Baltimore Humane Society, founded in 1927 by Mrs. Elsie Seeger Barton, is an independent, non-profit, no-kill animal shelter, which offers low-cost veterinary care to the public, and a pet cemetery with grief support services. We receive no operational funding from the local or federal governments, or any national animal welfare organizations. For more information about BHS, and how you can contribute, volunteer, adopt, or foster, please visit www.bmorehumane.org.