As the two-legged residents of Phoenix and the greater Valley get ready to celebrate the country’s 241st birthday with fireworks, barbecues and pool parties, the four-legged residents would be just as happy with a quiet celebration.
Cindy Goetz, president of Lost Dogs Arizona, said the loud noises associated with most 4th of July celebrations can cause many pets to panic and run away.
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“More pets are lost around the 4th of July than any other time of year in our state,” Goetz said, adding that local animal shelters will typically see an increase of two to three times the number of animals seeking shelter.
“Many pets that get lost during this time get injured or worse.”
To help keep dogs and cats as safe and calm as possible during the upcoming noisy holiday, Dr. Gabriela Durig, an associate veterinarian at Animal Medical Center of Chandler, said all pets—even those who are usually outside most of the time—should be safely secured indoors in a cool area with access to fresh water.
Because pets have been known to climb fences and dig through enclosures on July 4, pets should not be kept in the yard, despite how safe it may seem.
“All pets should have identification, so owners should make sure their microchip information is up to date and have an identification tag on them,” Durig said.
“If you know your pet has noise phobias or historically does not do well with this holiday, please talk with your veterinarian to discuss possible behavioral therapy.”
Vanessa Cornwall, marketing and fundraising coordinator for Lost our Home Pet Rescue in Tempe, said that leaving on a television or playing music can help to drown out the loud sounds of fireworks, including those that are set off in the neighborhood.
“You may not be near a firework show but that doesn’t mean a neighbor won’t set off fireworks,” said Cornwall, a Chandler resident.
Owners should also snap a photo or two of their pets prior to July 4, just to be sure a current photo is available should they go missing, Cornwall added.
Pool party safety
In addition to the bright lights and noises on July 4, other common summertime activities like pool parties can pose a hazard to pets.
“It is important to remember that although we like to swim, not all pets want to join in on the fun,” Durig said.
“Some breeds do not do well in the water and precautions should be taken. These breeds include: pugs, bulldogs, French bulldogs, basset hounds, corgis, and dachshunds.
“Owners who know their pet cannot swim should have a fence around the pool or only allow their pet outside when they can be watched closely,” Durig said.
“For pets that do enjoy the water, assure they know where steps are to enter and exit the pool, always have fresh water available for and have areas of shade available.”
There are various alternative ways to keep a dog cool, Goetz said; these include plastic swimming pools, sprinklers, misting systems, frozen “pupsicles” and ice.
Watch pets at barbecues
While dogs and cats may be more than happy to sample a cheeseburger fresh off the grill, Cornwall said owners must be vigilant when barbecuing.
“Barbecues can offer tantalizing treats for pets; however, most of them are toxic to our pets,” she said, adding that hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken and baby back ribs can wreak havoc on a pet’s stomach.
“Onions and garlic, common ingredients, are toxic to dogs and cats and can lead to fatal poisoning.”
Because alcoholic beverages have the potential to poison pets, Cornwall said owners must keep a sharp eye on the adult beverages and their pets, and not leave their dogs and cats unattended with any drink they can reach.
These paws are not always meant for walking
Goetz said dog owners who want to take their pooches for a walk should remember a key tip: “If it’s uncomfortable for you, it’s likely to be uncomfortable for your dog.”
“Keep walks short and when temperatures are lower like in the early morning or late evening and pay particular attention to the temperature of the walking surface,” Goetz said.
If a person cannot comfortably walk barefoot on the sidewalk or road, Cornwall said this means it is too hot for a dog’s paws and pads.
“Remember the longer the walk, the hotter the pavement will feel since there is not cooling down between the steps,” Cornwall said.
– Alison Stanton, SanTan Sun News / Edited for Phoenix.org