Jul 03 2018

4th of July Pet Safety Tips | Winslow Animal Hospital Dog & Cat

Happy 4th of July! We are so excited at Winslow Animal Hospital to be celebrating our nation’s birthday. We would like to help you celebrate as well by giving you some tips on how to keep your pet safe this holiday. 

Hot Weather and the Risk of Heat Stroke

For us folks living in South Jersey, we are looking at weather in the 90s on the 4th of July. Many of us will be doing all we can fight back against the heat. But we aren’t the only ones who get heat stroke, it is a very real danger for your pet as well. Especially be careful if you own a:

  • English Bulldog
  • Boston Terrier
  • Pug
  • French Bulldog
  • Boxer
  • Pekignese
  • Shih Tzu
  • Chow Chow

These dog breeds are particularly susceptible to getting heat stroke thanks to their flat faces and long fur. Senior pets, puppies and kittens, and overweight pets are also at risk from getting seriously ill from the heat. Take extra special care if you have any of these breeds or if your pet falls into any of the mentioned categories.

Symptoms or heat stroke include:

  • Bright red or pale gray, tacky gums
  • Diarrhea
  • Vommiting
  • Sticky drool
  • Rapid panting
  • Weakness
  • Collapsing
  • Shock 
  • Seizures
  • Uncoordinated movement

Avoid anything that might cause over heating. Make sure your pet has plenty of  cool water to drink. Never leave your pet in a locked car, it will heat up quickly and can cause them to get sick. Try to avoid the afternoon heat by exercising outside in the morning or evening when it is cooler. Try to not leave them outside for extended periods of time, especially if there is no shade available to them. Lastly, try to make sure your pet’s paws are protected from the hot asphalt.

If you think your pet is showing any signs try to cool them down as soon as possible by getting them into shade and applying cool, wet towels onto the abdomen. Call a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Summer Snacks That Could Harm Your Pet 

Who doesn’t love a good barbecue? Especially for the 4th of July. However, pet owners have to be careful with some of those foods that make up that great Independence Day BBQ.

  • Seeds/Pits

These seeds and pits coming out of the sweet, cool fruit could cause a lot of harm to your furry friend. The seeds could obstruct their airways while some seeds contain toxins in them.

  • Grapes

Grapes gain their own category because they are particularly toxic to dogs. They are so toxic that they can cause liver and kidney failure.

  • Carbonated Drinks/ Beer

The carbonation in soft drinks will increase the risk of bloat for your pet (bloat is an extremely dangerous condition in which the stomach flips and causes obstruction – see more on the blog post Is It an Emergency?). Beer takes an extra step by also being toxic. The hops carry toxins that can cause malignant hypothermia in dogs. If your pet ingests too much beer, alcohol poisoning is also a problem to worry about.

  • Dairy Products

No one wants an upset stomach on a holiday. That is what that ice cream and whipped cream is going to do to your furry friend. 

  • Bones

You know those bones from that awesome barbecue chicken your going to have? Make sure you take extra care when throwing them away. Bones can cause choking and block airways. Bones can also splinter (especially chicken bones) and puncture the digestive system.

  • Corn Cobs

Corn cobs can cause obstruction and choking. Just make sure to be careful when throwing them away.

  • Fatty Foods

Those yummy hot dogs that we all indulge in are not the best thing for your pet to be getting a hold of. Foods high in fats can cause vomiting and diarrhea. If they got  a lot, then pancreatitis is a possibility.  

We encourage you to take extra precautions this 4th of July to make sure that your pet doesn’t get any foods that can cause them harm. If you think your pet has ingested something and is in distress please contact a veterinarian.

Anxiety Caused by Fireworks 

Early July is rife with fireworks displays here in South Jersey. Whether you are here in Sicklerville or one of the surrounding towns, Pet-Parents are never far from 4th of July celebration complete with loud noises, bright lights, and strange smells.  It can be overwhelming for dogs and cats. As startling as an unexpected explosion can be for a human, for pets, these experiences can be downright terrifying.  Here are some things you should know about fireworks as a pet owner:

Fear of fireworks is normal

Some pets behave anxiously in response to fireworks. Humans can expect to hear them around the fourth of July in the United States, but pets cannot understand dates and holidays and when to expect fireworks.

A dog’s sensory experiences are more intense

We humans have dogs beat when it comes to detecting and differentiating between colors. In many other ways, though, dogs’ senses are more acute than ours.  Dogs can hear pitches that are outside the range of what hearing people are able to detect. Since a dog’s sensory experiences are more intense, fireworks are understandably frightening.

The Fight-or-Flight response is involuntary

Animals are pre-wired to respond to danger. The “fight-or-flight response” (sometimes called the “fight-flight-or-freeze response”) causes a rush of adrenaline and stress hormones, an increase in heart rate, hyper-vigilance, and behavior changes to match.  Some pets may bark, hide, run, and some may be frozen in fear. When this pre-wired response kicks in, even dogs who are housebroken may suddenly have unwanted behaviors they do not normally display. Try to reassure and calm your dog to lessen this response.

image (Biz-Off-PC3's conflicted copy 2015-10-15 (35))

Fireworks may be more intimidating than thunderstorms

Some pets are terrified of thunderstorms, while others are completely unbothered. The barometric pressure changes and cloudiness can provide clues of an impending storm, allowing your pet to anticipate thunder. Fireworks have no such warning signs, which could be disorienting and frightening for your pet.

Dogs can be desensitized to the noise

Classical Conditioning efforts may help to reduce the stress of fireworks, but this process can take time, and not all dogs will be equally responsive.  Play recorded fireworks sounds for your pet at a very low volume and reinforce calm behavior with praise or treats. Gradually increase the volume of the recording so that the fireworks are not intimidating and your pet becomes accustomed to behaving appropriately in the presence of fireworks sounds. If you have special treats, you might even condition your dog to salivate at the sound of fireworks!

Fireworks & pets

Create a calm space away from the noise

Pets may have different spaces they feel safe in. A crate-trained pet may feel safest in their crate with a chew toy. Others may feel safer in a bed. Treats and toys may be able to provide a positive association with fireworks. Gentle music may provide a calming distraction. It’s also critical that everyone in the house remain calm around the pet.

If your pet’s response is extreme, talk to your veterinarian

Everyone gets nervous, even pets. If your pet’s reaction is more extreme and destructive, you should talk to your veterinarian about it.  Bring your pet to our animal hospital to see if they need anti-anxiety medication in conjunction with the above steps.

Tiny Microchip, Huge Protection

As stated above, there is a massive increase in lost pets during early July every year. Fireworks displays can send pets fleeing in a panic, unable to find their way home. Keep a wearable ID on your pet at all times, but you should also consider having your pet microchipped

We’ve seen situations where a pet is found with no microchip, and caring people spread the word on social media trying to find the owners. Days go by, and uncertainty grows.  We have also seen situations, like Woody’s and Simon’s, in which pets have microchips. We scanned their microchips and were able to promptly contact their owners who were missing Woody and Simon on the other side of the state! Getting their dogs microchipped made all the difference for their family.

Family Reunited Thanks to Microchip

Inserting a microchip is really quite simple.  These chips are the size of a grain of rice and are typically inserted on the back in the area of the shoulders. This process is similar to administering a vaccine. See Tyson get a microchip below. 

Dr. Levie Inserts a Microchip for Tyson


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