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Reporter Pamela Gould and Emma are a registered pet therapy team. Email pgould@freelancestar.com.

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Take steps to protect your pets amid July 4 festivities and fireworks

fireworksphotoLocal veterinarian Kathy Kallay offers these tips for helping your pets enjoy the Fourth of July festivities.

Fireworks are beautiful to look at but the loud noises and flashing lights scare a lot of cats and dogs.

If your pet is afraid of thunderstorms, there is a good chance it will be afraid of fireworks, but there are steps you can take to minimize its angst.

Keep your pet indoors with the curtains closed, lights on, and some background white noise to drown out the sound of the fireworks.

It also helps to distract some dogs with a special chew toy. I love to give my dogs Kongs stuffed with food.

If your pet has severe anxiety, call your veterinarian to discuss it. In some cases, medications are appropriate to help calm animals. I know my dog, Merlin, benefits from his “happy” pills.

FourthofJuly-dog-clipIf you are going to have your pet outside with you when fireworks are being lit, be aware that some dogs will attack fireworks that make strange noises or move around (like prey). Dogs have been known to try and pick up or bite lit fireworks causing severe burns to their mouths. And, after the fireworks are over, make sure the dogs aren’t eating any of the pieces left on the ground.

Amid the Fourth of July festivities, it is also important to make sure your pet is wearing permanent identification such as a collar with tags or a microchip. You would be surprised how many pets run off when they are scared, and it is much easier to reunite them with their owners when they have identification.

I know the Fourth of July is about celebrating independence, but we don’t want our pets to become too independent from us!

If you are having a party, be extra vigilant about doors being left open inadvertently. Also, let your guests know what the rules are about feeding your pets table food. If you don’t think the guests can follow the rules, or if you think all of the strangers might be too stressful for your pet, consider isolating the animal in a room away from the party guests.

Also, remember that July usually brings hot, humid weather, so, if you are taking your dog to an outdoor event during the day, don’t forget about the risk of heat stroke.

If it’s hot, restrict the pet’s activity, make sure it has plenty of water to drink and a shady place to rest. Brachycephalic breeds (ones with squished noses like bulldogs) are especially prone to problems.

And if your plans include swimming or boating, remember that dogs need to wear life jackets too!

With a few precautions, we can all have a good time this holiday and create fun memories with our pets.

Happy Birthday, America!

–Dr. Kathy Kallay operates Four Paws Animal Hospital and Wellness Center in Spotsylvania County.

Permalink: http://news.fredericksburg.com/petdish/2014/07/02/pettips-take-precautions-to-protect-pets-amid-july-4-festivities/

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