July 4th Pet Safety Tips

Maya Marin

Attention Cuteness community members who call USA home—before celebrating Independence Day with a bang we'd like to give you a pet safety checklist to ensure that your cuddly critters stay safe in the midst of all the fiery fun. The 4th can be a very frightening time for animals, and as a result of the noise, flashing lights, and general hullabaloo, many pets are prone to panicking and running away from home. In fact, the American Humane Association reports that the day after Independence day is the busiest day of the year for shelters because of all the lost, scared pets roaming the streets. The poor cuties probably thought their neighborhood was under siege, so who could blame them for busting loose? What's more, burn injuries (among both people AND pets) and poisoning can also occur if you're not careful! Best heed the following safeguards to ensure that your 4th is filled with nothing but fun and festivity.

• Consider keeping your pet securely indoors - First and foremost, your goal should be to keep your pets' anxiety levels to a minimum, and the best way to do that is to keep them in a place where the flashes, pops, and booms won't be so pronounced—which, in most circumstances, would mean indoors. Put familiar items near your pet (toys, blankets, etc.) and then turn on a fan, the television, the radio, or anything else that may drown out the noise. Also, make sure to leave no possible escape route, should your panicked pet attempt to bolt.

• Be prepared for a "runaway" situation - Even if you've taken every precaution, there is still the chance that your pets may escape the warzone and go AWOL. If this occurs, you're going to be very glad that you took the time to get them microchipped and that you updated the contact information on their ID tags. Better safe than sorry!

• Never set fireworks off around your pet - If you love colorful sparks and loud pops, more power to ya! Set off fireworks to your heart's content, just make sure that your pets aren't around to see nor hear the display. Not only are they frightening, but there's always the danger of something going awry, resulting in severe burns to both pets AND people. Also, fireworks contain toxic substances and heavy metals that can be deadly to animals if ingested.

• Keep alcoholic beverages out of your pet's reach - This one shouldn't need much explanation! Alcoholic drinks can induce respiratory failure and coma in animals, so keep the beer and liquor away from your animals.

• Bar pets from the barbecue - Keep pets away from the harmful objects used while grilling, like matches, lighter fluid, and "quick light" charcoal containing lighter fluid (something which many dogs, it seems, are fond of ingesting). Even favorite barbecued foods like burgers, fried chicken, hot dogs, and sauce-smothered ribs can pose a threat to dogs in the form of indigestion and stomach upset. (Though, if we're honest, these foods can pose the same threat to us if we don't practice a bit of self control!). However, it's very important that you keep ALL condiments away from your pets, as they often contain onions and garlic—two foods which are toxic to dogs and cats.

• Watch pets closely if around water - Even though you're pretty sure that your pets can swim, it's always a good idea to supervise them if you're celebrating the day near a body of water (pools, lakes, the beach, etc.). You can even get animal life vests if you plan on taking them out on a boat! We wish you and your fur babies a safe and happy July 4th!