CRITTER CHATTER: A Fun 4th for Furry Friends

by Dr. Phil 

Brilliant, dazzling fireworks over Lake Champlain, great family and friends, tasty barbeques and patriotic celebratory parades make July 4th one of my favorite holidays. But many of these festivities can be frightening or even dangerous to pets, so here’re a few tips to keep your pets safe and happy during this upcoming holiday.


1. If your dog or cat has a tendency to be unnerved by loud noises or unusual circumstances, it might be a good idea to stock up on some over-the-counter calming supplements. Your veterinarian can also prescribe medications that you should begin 24 hours prior to the onset of the festivities.

2. Never use fireworks around your pets. It is very easy for them to become frightened or disoriented and run away looking for a place to hide. Don’t take your pets to a crowded display of fireworks, but instead keep them safe in their crate or a quiet, escape-proof room.

3. Direct contact with any type of fireworks could result in a severe burn to the muzzle or paws.  Even spent fireworks may contain toxic materials such as sulfur, potassium nitrate and chlorine. Always clean up any debris resulting from your own pyrotechnic displays.

4. Although minimally toxic, chewing glow sticks or bracelets can cause a mouth or throat irritation or an intestinal obstruction if any large pieces of plastic are swallowed. The liquid inside may cause skin redness or irritation.  Chewed citronella candles and insect repellant coils can cause stomach upsets and even affect the central nervous system.

5. If you host a Fourth of July party, and your pet is a “party animal”, make sure the yard is secure so escape is not possible. A few well-placed notes near gates or doors will remind partygoers to keep an eye on your dog or cat.

6. You should be prepared in the event of an escape by making sure that your dog or cat has an identification tag with your name and current telephone number securely attached to his collar. If your pet has a microchip, verify that the contact information at the registry is up to date. It is a good idea to have current photos of all your pets just in case.

7. Make sure any festive foraging does not include table foods such as hotdogs or hamburgers, chips and salsa and alcohol. I have treated many a dog for acute alcohol toxicity, and canine hangovers are not pretty.

The 4th is really a great time for family and friends to get together, so it is nice if you can include your pets in the festivities. Just be safe and smart about it.

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