The 4th of July and the days immediately following are historically the busiest days of the year for U.S. shelters, but a bit of preparation before our nation’s birthday is key to preventing lost pets. Paying heed to these six preventive tips can help you keep your dogs and cats safe and sound this holiday:
Plan the day. Though it might be fun for you to keep things spur of the moment and off the cuff on a day like the 4th, a lack of a plan can be super-duper stressful and ultimately detrimental to your pet. Take a few minutes now to map out the potential plans for the day: pool parties, cook-outs, visiting friends & families, and, most especially…fireworks. For each potential activity, decide ahead of time where the dog and cat will be and think critically about if that situation is going to be stressful for them (or stressful for you because of them), and then decide on your plan of action to eliminate those stress points so you provide a safe and pleasant experience for your furry family members.
Check your pets’ external IDs. Is the writing on their ID tag legible (or scannable if you have a digital ID tags? Is their license up to date and visible? Is their collar well-fitted so it won’t be easy to back out of, but is still comfortable to wear? Remember external IDs are the FASTEST way for your pet to get home if they go AWOL (absent without a leash). Don’t rely on microchips or even a GPS collar alone to protect your pet. Make sure they are protected with a current, easy to read and access external ID tag and reliable collar/harness that is worn at all times.
Update your data. Ensure that the rescue organization from where you adopted your dog always has updated contact information. Speaking of microchips, when was the last time you double checked that the registration for the chip was up-to-date? If it has been more than a year, then that is too long. Your best bet for making sure everything is ready-to-go is to take a quick trip down to your vet and ask them to do a microchip check. They’ll scan your dog or cat, check the data so you can verify everything is current and also let you know if the chip has migrated in the animal’s body. This type of sanity check should be done once a year, and the weeks before a hectic holiday like 4th of July is a perfect time.
Know your pet’s stress points. Unless your dog or cat is brand new to your home, you likely know if they scare easily with loud noises and lots of commotion. If you are not sure, take some time in the next few weeks to acclimate them to the noises they will hear that night. Also, consider looking into products likeThundershirt and iCalm which can often help alleviate stress during situations like fireworks. Most important of all…refer back to step #1: plan ahead so you have things set up ahead of time for your pet to be comfortable, secure and safe during all activities on the big day.
Watch those table scraps! Cookouts will be plentiful on the 4th, and the opportunities for your pooch to swipe hot dog or five will be abundant. A bit of a (healthy) treat here and there is fine — but it is easy for a pup to overindulge as we celebrate around him. Be very mindful of Fido while he roams the picnic crowd, set expectations with your guests ahead of time so they aren’t sharing their plates with him and remind yourself of foods that are toxic and either ensure those foods are always out of his reach or avoid having them at the event altogether.
Keep them contained. Most likely, your pets will not be joining you for the big fireworks display after dark (and they most likely prefer that!). Before you leave the house to head to the big show, ensure all doors, windows, and exit points are secured and escape-proofed. Avoid leaving your pets outside while you are away, as this is just begging for an attempt to escape the booms and flashes. The best solution of all is to safely crate your pet. To give them even more comfort, leave an article of clothing with your scent on it to help soothe them, and sound-proof the room they are in as much as possible. And please, come home after the event as soon as you can — it’s been a stressful night for your furry family members and they need some hugs and cuddles.
By taking the time in the weeks ahead of a big, loud, overwhelming holiday you can circumvent a lot of stress and danger for your four (or three!) legged companions.