As Independence Day draws near, veterinarians stress the importance of pet safety and preparedness during the planned Fourth of July festivities.
With all of the celebration, sweet savory barbecued dishes, open flames and fireworks, paying attention to detail is an important practice to prevent your pet from injury.
Prevention is always the best form of first aid.
However, in the event of a burn or injury to your fury friend this holiday, here are some first aid tips you need to know:
- First, never put any types of cream, ointment, butter or margarine on your pet's burn. These can introduce bacteria and other harmful substances into the burned area.
- If the burn is mild, cool the area as soon as possible with cool water and contact your veterinarian. Never use ice as ice increases the chance of hypothermia.
- For more severe burns, cover the wound with a clean, sterile cloth. Most importantly get the pet to your family veterinarian or nearest emergency veterinary hospital as soon as possible.
In addition to the burn itself, injured animals may not behave as usual due to pain, fear or shock.
Besides burn injuries, there is usually an uptick in emergencies relating to vomiting, diarrhea and heat exhaustion.
- Keep pets in an air conditioned environment during the heat of the day and limit strenuous activities such as running and playing. Always make sure your pet has access to plenty of fresh water.
- If your pet does become overheated, spray the animal down with room temperature or cool water, but never ice water. Ice cold water causes a decrease in blood flow to the skin and heat can't escape the body, which makes heat exhaustion symptoms worse.
Besides physical injuries, pets may have an increase in anxiety and stress due to fireworks and visits by a house full of guests that may not usually be around. This is important to remember as your pets may not behave as they usually do.
- If your pets frighten easily, make sure they can't run away, as loud noises from fireworks could frighten them.
- Pets have very sensitive ears and the booms and bangs associated with a fireworks display can be quite uncomfortable - particularly to dogs. In fact, the noises can actually hurt their ears. Leave pets at home if you are going to a fireworks show.
Also, if your pets are frightened due to this unusual activity, try playing a game during this time to distract them or place them in a secure area like a kennel where they can feel safe. Placing a blanket over the kennel can decrease their anxiety. If you know your pet experiences anxiety in thunderstorms and while fireworks are going off, contact your veterinarian to see about potential medicated solutions.
Furthermore, with the Fourth of July usually comes a feast of flavorful foods, but remember the same things you enjoy could harm or even kill your pet.
Alcohol, avocado, caffeine, chives, chocolate, coffee, garlic, grapes, macadamia nuts, onions and raisins, can all have a negative effect on a pet. If a pet has ingested any of these items, contact a veterinarian as soon as possible.
"Most importantly, when you are in doubt about your pet's safety, you should contact your family veterinarian as soon as possible and see whether or not additional medical treatment is necessary," said Dr. Neil Shaw, chief medical officer of BluePearl Veterinary Partners of Tampa, Fla.
"Of course, if it is an after-hours emergency and your usual veterinarian is closed, our trained specialists and emergency personnel would be happy to help at any one of our emergency locations," Dr. Shaw said.