This Fourth of July, it’s important to be prepared for all the celebrations, and not just in terms of fireworks and food. Read on to learn more about how to keep your pets safe and happy this Independence Day.
Make sure your pet has proper identification! A collar with an ID tag and accurate, up-to-date contact information is very helpful in the event that your pet accidentally escapes. Another option is to consider microchipping your pet. This is helpful if your pet’s collar comes off- if someone finds them, then they can take him/her to most shelters or veterinary hospitals and find your contact information just by scanning the microchip. An extra safety measure to help prevent a possible runaway is to make sure your yard or fencing is secure so that if your pet gets anxious or afraid and decides to make a break for it, they will at least be contained on your property. Extra Tip: Don’t change their diet! It could give your pet some unexpected tummy upset or diarrhea, and if your pet has an unknown noise anxiety, it might spell trouble later in the evening.
During the Festivities:
If you’re having a get-together or barbecue, it is good to keep your pets away from any grills or cooking areas to prevent any mishaps with hot surfaces or charcoal. The same should be done for any beverages or human food that may be around. Make sure that if you or neighbors are setting off fireworks that your dogs are indoors and/or away from any and all fireworks, sparklers, or glow sticks. The loud noises and lights can be frightening and disorienting. It’s also a good idea to ask your guests to help out in keeping an eye are your pets as well if they will be roaming around the house. If you’re going to be heading elsewhere for a celebration, make sure you pet-sitter has the information they need to care for your pet. Especially if your pet has known anxiety with loud noises or thunderstorms, your pet sitter will need to know how to best deal with that and know how best to keep your loved-one calm and happy.
After it all Dies Down:
After all the fun, of course, comes time to clean up! Not just for you, but for your pet as well. Make sure to get any and all food and beverage trash that might be lurking around waiting for a pet to get into. When you throw things away, also make sure that the trash is completely sealed and out of reach to your pets! If you had guests over and lit fireworks, it’s very important to go through your yard or property to properly dispose of any leftover debris. Even if you didn’t personally set off fireworks, other debris might have made its way into your yard.
Teresa Mundy, Boarding Technician and Social Media Coordinator
Animal injuries can occur at any time, and generally occur when least expected (like when you are away from home), so it’s best to prepare ahead of time. Keeping a pet First Aid kit handy — at home and in your car — is a great way to ease the stress of dealing with health issues that occur, wherever you may be. Below is a list of recommended information and items to include.
Important Phone Numbers:
- Phone number for your veterinarian
- Phone number for the nearest emergency veterinary clinic (along with directions!)
- Phone number for a poison control hotline (such as the ASPCA poison control center, which can be reached at 1-800-426-4435)
- Copy of your pet’s vaccination certificate for proof of vaccines in case an emergency treatment is needed
- Current photo of your pet (in case he/she gets lost)
- Self-cling bandage (bandage that stretches and sticks to itself but not to fur, such as VetWrap, which is available at pet stores)
- Muzzle or roll of gauze for making a muzzle to prevent biting (don’t use this if your pet is vomiting, choking, coughing, or otherwise having difficulty breathing)
- Nylon leash
Basic First Aid Supplies:
- Absorbent gauze pads
- Adhesive tape
- Non-prescription antibiotic ointment
- Antiseptic wipes
- Cotton balls or swabs
- Disposable gloves
- Gauze rolls
- Hot/cold compress
- Hydrogen peroxide (to induce vomiting — but do this only when directed by a veterinarian or poison control expert)
- Petroleum jelly (to lubricate a thermometer)
- Rectal thermometer
- Scissors with blunt ends
- Sterile non-stick gauze pads for bandages
- Sterile saline (sold at pharmacies, or you can use contact lens solution)
- Styptic powder or sticks, Kwik Stop, or cornstarch
Other Useful Items:
- A pillowcase (to confine your cat for treatment)
- A pet carrier
- Diphenhydramine (Benadryl — only use when directed by a veterinarian)
- Ear cleaning solution
- Emergency blanket
- Gatorade or Pedialyte (for rehydrating)
- Karo syrup (for diabetic pets who may have low blood sugar)
- Nail clippers
- Penlight or flashlight
- Rubbing alcohol
- Tongue depressors (for a makeshift splint)
Taking a Heart Rate or Pulse
Knowing how to check vital signs is also important in the case of an emergency. The heartbeat of a dog or cat can be felt at about the point where the left elbow touches the chest. Place your hand over this area and count the heartbeats while keeping time on a phone or stopwatch.
Pulses can also be felt with a light touch on the inner thigh, approximately halfway between the front and back of the leg, just below the wrist on the front legs or just below the ankle of the rear legs.
Normal Heart and Pulse Rates at Rest
Small breed dogs (under 30 pounds): 100–160 beats per minute
Medium to large breed dogs (over 30 pounds): 60–100 beats per minute
Puppy (until 1 year old): 120–160 beats per minute
Cats: 130–220 beats per minute
Normal Breathing Rates
Dogs: 10–30 breaths per minute and up to 200 pants per minute
Cats: 20–30 breaths per minute. (Note: panting in a cat can be a sign of serious illness and requires immediate veterinary attention)
You can learn more about this topic from the sources below, or contact your veterinarian for advice if your pet has special needs.
American Red Cross Smartphone App for Pet First Aid: www.redcross.org/mobile-apps/pet-first-aid-app
AVMA Pet First Aid Information: www.avma.org/public/EmergencyCare/Pages/First-Aid-Tips-for-Pet-Owners.aspx
Humane Society First Aid Kit: www.humanesociety.org/animals/resources/tips/pet_first_aid_kit.html
Contributed by Janelle Powell, Office Manager (with Charlie)