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Celebrating Independence Day with Your Pet
This Wednesday most people will spend the day outside
celebrating Independence Day watching fireworks with their family
and friends. Often, people bring their dogs to enjoy the
day's festivities. There are a few things to know if you plan
to spend July 4 outside with your pets.
Dr. Melanie Bolling, veterinarian for the Small Animal Hospital
at Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical
Sciences, said the most common problem associated with July 4 is
dogs' sensitivity to the noise from the fireworks.
"A lot of dogs are noise phobic, whether it's fireworks or other
loud noises such as guns, cars backfiring, and thunderstorms.
These noises are scary and if you didn't know what it was, you
might be concerned about your safety, too," Bolling said.
Bolling said the best idea is to keep dogs, particularly those
with noise phobias, away from the commotion. If that is not
an option, Bolling suggested using "anxiety wraps" or "thunder
shirts," a compression garment for dogs to wear that makes them
feel secure. Bolling also recommended discussing appropriate
anxiety-relieving medications with your veterinarian.
Another factor that can cause anxiety and stress in dogs is
large crowds of unusual people. If you know ahead of time
that your dog does not do well with large groups of people, Bolling
suggested leaving the pet at home or boarding them. If you
are going to bring them, she suggested having a calm area for the
"It's a good idea to give your dog a quiet place where they can
get away from all the crowds of people if they are just not that
into it," Bolling said.
Bringing pets to these crowded areas usually means contact with
other pets, some of which could be unvaccinated. Bolling said
it is important to make sure your pet's vaccinations are up-to-date
if bringing them with you.
"If you are going to be in a place where unvaccinated dogs might
have walked, such as soccer fields, baseball fields, or parks, you
want to make sure your dogs are up-to-date on vaccinations. I
wouldn't take an unvaccinated puppy or a puppy that hasn't
completed the whole vaccine series to any of those places because
they could pick up nasty little diseases along the way," she
In addition to vaccinations, parasites can pose a threat to your
dog's health. Heartworms are spread by mosquitoes, which tend to be
out around July 4. While other parasites like fleas and ticks are
spread through contact with contaminated soil or other infected
animals, so make sure pets are on heartworm, flea, and tick
preventatives before heading out.
The heat is another issue to consider. If your dog is
going to spend the day outside with you, Bolling stressed the
importance of bringing enough water.
"You need to bring enough water to last the whole day and then
extra, especially if the dog is going to be active and running
around. They are going to be panting and losing water just
through evaporative loss, so they are going to need to replenish
that," she said.
In addition to water, you should bring dog food because it is
best to avoid giving your dog people food.
"Everybody wants to give their dogs a little snack so if it is
something your dog is used to getting, all things in moderation,
but try to avoid the temptation to feed them people food in
excess," she said.
It is a good idea to avoid giving your pet a lot of people food
because then your dog may become sick. Bolling explained that
on July 5 and 6 the hospital cares for a lot of dogs sick to their
stomachs from eating too much people food.
"You want to stay away from any meat that might have bones in
it, from raw meat, and bad actors such as raisins, grapes,
chocolate, chewing gums, things of that nature," Bolling said.
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