Animal and Fireworks Don’t Mix

Protect Your Pet on the Fourth of July

Thursday, July 3, 2008
by LISA ACHO REMORENKO

Image of a Black Lab with a patriotic bowFor many people, the fourth of July is a festive celebration, complete with BBQs, fireworks, and your four-legged family member. However, bringing your pooch to a fourth of July celebration may not be the best idea as there are some foods and products that could be hazardous. So that you may enjoy a fun holiday weekend, take these precautions:

Resist the urge to take your pet to fireworks displays and never use fireworks around pets. While exposure to lit fireworks can potentially result in severe burns and/or trauma to the face and paws of curious pets, even unused fireworks can pose a danger. Many types contain potentially toxic substances, including potassium nitrate, arsenic, and other heavy metals.

Do not leave your pet in the car during fireworks. With only hot air to breathe inside a car, your pet can suffer serious health effects, even death, in a few short minutes. Plus, if your pet is frightened of fireworks, he may injure himself trying to escape.

Keep your pets indoors at home in a sheltered, quiet area.Some animals can become destructive when frightened, so be sure that you’ve removed any items that your pet could destroy or that would be harmful to your pet if chewed. Leave a television or radio playing at normal volume to keep him company while you’re attending Fourth of July picnics, parades, and other celebrations.

If you know that your pet is seriously distressed by loud noises like thunder, consult with your veterinarian before July 4th for ways to help alleviate the fear and anxiety he or she will experience during fireworks displays.

Never leave pets outside unattended, even in a fenced yard or on a chain. In their fear, pets who normally wouldn’t leave the yard may escape and become lost, or become entangled in their chain, risking injury or death.

Make sure your pets are wearing identification tags so that if they do become lost, they can be returned promptly. Shelters are inundated with stray animals the day after a fireworks celebration. Make sure your pet doesn’t become a statistic. If you find an animal running at-large, you should call animal control or, if possible, take the animal to an animal shelter, where they will have the best chance of being reunited with their owners. Be sure to use caution when trying to handle a stray animal.

Never leave alcoholic drinks unattended where pets can reach them. Alcoholic beverages have the potential to poison pets. If ingested, the animal could become very intoxicated and weak, severely depressed, or could go into a coma. Death from respiratory failure is also a possibility in severe cases.

Always keep matches and lighter fluid out of your pets’ reach. Certain types of matches contain chlorates, which could potentially damage blood cells and result in difficulty breathing-or even kidney disease in severe cases. Lighter fluid can be irritating to skin, and if ingested can produce gastrointestinal irritation and central nervous system depression. If lighter fluid is inhaled, aspiration pneumonia and breathing problems could develop.

Keep your pets on their normal diet. Any change, even for one meal, can give your pet severe indigestion and diarrhea. This is particularly true for older animals who have more delicate digestive systems and nutritional requirements. Also keep in mind that certain foods such as onions, chocolate, coffee, avocado, grapes, raisins, and salt are all potentially toxic to companion animals.

Do not put glow jewelry on your pets, or allow them to play with it. While the luminescent substance contained in these products is not highly toxic, excessive drooling and gastrointestinal irritation could still result from ingestions, and intestinal blockage could occur from swallowing large pieces of the plastic containers.

Keep citronella candles, insect coils, and oil products out of reach. Ingestions can produce stomach irritation and possibly even central nervous system depression. If inhaled, the oils could cause aspiration pneumonia in pets.

If you follow these simple precautions, you and your pet can have a safe and happy Fourth of July