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Healthy Paws: Fourth of July Safety Tips

Healthy Paws

Editor’s Note: Healthy Paws is a column sponsored and written by the owners of Clarendon Animal Care, a full-service, general practice veterinary clinic and winner of a 2017 Arlington Chamber of Commerce Best Business Award. The clinic is located 3000 10th Street N., Suite B. and can be reached at 703-997-9776.

The Fourth of July is right around the corner, so to help keep the fur-children safe and happy we’ve put together a few tips that we hope are helpful to you:

Independence Day has the dubious distinction as the day that more pets go missing than any other day of the year, and July 5 is the busiest day of the year for most animal shelters (I’m sure the wonderful folks at the Animal Welfare League of Arlington would like a quiet weekend!).

  • Keep your pet safe and indoors
  • Have your pet identified – make sure they have a collar with an identification tag and/or a microchip that is up to date on its registration.

In the days after the Fourth of July, we often see a spike in cases of gastrointestinal problems that require treatment or hospitalization.

  • Feeding your pet table food from your cook-out may seem like a good or a cute idea at the time, but many pets do not tolerate dietary changes well and is a poor decision. We see problems ranging from mild gastroenteritis (inflammation of the stomach/intestine) from eating food that’s out of the ordinary, to intestinal foreign bodies that need to be surgically removed (corn cobs, cooked rib bones, etc.), and pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) that often requires several days of hospitalization/supportive care.
  • Glow sticks and citronella candles/repellants are also irritating to your pet’s GI tract and should be kept away from them at all times.

Resist the urge to take your pet to all your Fourth of July festivities. It’s hot and stressful for our furry friends.

  • Overheating, stress and anxiety are common issues seen with pets in these situations. While celebrating the Fourth is fun for most of us bipedal human folk, our fur-kids have no idea what’s going on other than that their normal routine just got thrown out the window and we expect them to be OK with that.
  • Our pets are very sensitive to the effects of alcohol – so please don’t give them any. It’s not cute to see them vomiting, having seizures or going into respiratory arrest from alcohol intoxication.
  • Don’t assume your pet knows how to swim. If you’ll be spending your day pool-side on a boat or at the beach/lake/other large body of water, be sure you are watching your pet at all times and have a life-preserver for them to keep them safe.
  • Never use fireworks around your pet. This may seem like a no-brainer, but we see far too many cases of injuries, burns and ingestion of the toxic substances found in many fireworks.

Noise phobias can be very distressing to both owner and fur-child, and while many animals may just get a little anxious with the sound of fireworks, some go into an all-out distressed panic.

If you know that your pet is noise-phobic please have a discussion with your veterinarian about the use of anti-anxiety medications, sedatives and non-pharmacologic strategies to manage noise-phobias now, not on Saturday afternoon; and have a safe, quiet, escape-proof place to keep your pet.

Keep these tips in mind, and we hope everyone has a happy and safe Fourth of July! And while we hope you don’t need it – information on a few of the local 24/7 veterinary emergency hospitals can be found here.

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