MSPCA’s July 4th Pet Safety Recommendations

Fireworks, dangerous foods and heat top the list of concerns for Jamaica Plain pet owners. As JP gears up to celebrate the Fourth of July Holiday the MSPCA-Angell is imploring pet owners to heed basic safety precautions to keep pets safe and healthy during the long weekend.

“Doggie Pools” are especially fun for four-leggeds during intense summertime heat (credit MSPCA-Angell)

Fireworks: Not Fun for Fido

Dr. Terri Bright of the MSPCA’s Behavior Services Department cautions that fireworks can be especially terrifying for some dogs. “We must keep in mind that the sense of hearing in dogs is far superior to ours—so they hear and feel these sounds with much greater intensity,” she said.

Dr. Bright’s top tips for helping dogs weather the fireworks storm include:

• Keep dogs in a small interior room of the house with a noise machine and shades drawn so as to block out both explosive sounds and the bright lights of fireworks

• Offer an engaging and tasty treat such as a peanut butter- or meat-filled Kong to keep dogs occupied and comforted

• Play their favorite games, and have special toys for them to engage with

• Keep outside time to a minimum while fireworks displays are going on—even if that means moving up the post-dinner walk to earlier in the afternoon and ensuring bathroom breaks happen before the displays

• Never leave dogs outside unaccompanied as a general rule—and certainly not during fireworks displays, which can elicit unpredictable behavior (such as fleeing) that dogs may otherwise not exhibit

• As a last resort you may want to see your veterinarian to determine if a mild tranquilizer may help your dog get through the displays

“As with all things a little common sense goes a long way and by following these tips dog owners are much more likely to see their pets comfortably through the most intense displays,” said Dr. Bright.

Top Summer Holiday Health Concerns

The MSPCA’s Angell Animal Medical Center is keen to help pet owners avoid a trip to the animal ER ahead of the July 4th Holiday weekend. Topping veterinarians’ list of threats once again are backyard barbecues.

Left unattended, dogs can severely injure themselves by swallowing wooden or metal skewers, foil and plastic wrap, corn cobs and bones. Angell treats dozens of barbecue-related injuries every summer and in many cases surgery is required to remove these objects from the stomachs of dogs.

Dr. Virginia Sinnott of Angell’s Emergency & Critical Care unit stresses prevention as the first course of action. “The best way to ensure a festive summer barbecue doesn’t turn into an emergency for our pets is to just keep these food items and objects out of our dogs’ reach,” she said.

Summertime Heat: A Silent Killer

Heat stroke can be a big concern for pet owners across New England. Animals are very sensitive to high temperatures, making it critically important to monitor pets and provide them with plenty of shade and water.

According to Dr. Sinnott, dogs with short snouts such as Pugs, Boston Terriers and Bulldogs are more susceptible to breathing difficulty in hot weather. Older Labrador Retrievers and other dogs susceptible to laryngeal paralysis may have a crisis in hot weather as well. Dr. Sinnott offers the follow recommendations for keeping pets safe during summertime heat waves:

• Walk pets in the early morning (ideally) or late evening when the sun is low and temperatures are cooler

• Walk dogs on softer ground such as dirt trails or grass instead of hot blacktop or cement sidewalks, which can burn their paws

• Make sure dogs always have plenty of shade in which to rest outside. The shade provided by trees is ideal, particularly if there is soft grass or dirt underneath, on which they can relax

• Dogs who spend a lot of time outside should have access to natural ground cover and be allowed to dig holes in the dirt. The holes they dig expose moist soil which is more efficient and dissipating heat.

• Always provide plenty of fresh clean water for dogs

• Dogs will exercise until they drop so if a pet is slowing down on a walk, it means they are near extreme exhaustion. Stop immediately and seek shade or a cool environment.

• Keep pets inside in the coolest parts of the home during the most intense heat waves

Pet owners should immediately contact their veterinarian should pets exhibit any signs of heat stroke such as excessive panting, reluctance to continue a walk or slowing down on a walk or run, vomiting, intense fatigue, loss of appetite or lethargy. For more information related to pet safety during the Fourth of July weekend—or any time of year—visit mspca.org.