By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
With the celebration of the 4th of July nearly upon us, the safety of our pets is something to be prepared for in advance.
Loud noises from fireworks throughout the weekend can be a scary ordeal for furry family members. Pets often try to run away in an effort to flee from sometimes deafening fireworks, and people coming and going from holiday parties create opportunities for pets to escape through open doors and gates.
“July 5 is our busiest day of the year. So many pets get loose the night before because of the noise from fireworks and activity during parties,” said Animal Welfare Superintendent Julie Bank. “We get hundreds of calls from people who lose their pets.”
Exposure to lit fireworks can potentially result in severe burns and/or trauma to the face and paws of curious pets. Even unused fireworks can pose a danger, containing potentially toxic substances, including potassium nitrate or other heavy metals.
Studies show that even typically well-behaved pets can go through extreme behavior changes because of loud noises.
OKC Animal Welfare offers the following tips for pet safety during the Independence Day weekend:
· Keep identification on your pets at all times in the form of collar tags and microchips.
· Keep your pets inside in a safe, stress-free place.
· Keep an eye out for open doors and gates during parties.
· Don’t overfeed your pets or give them foods they aren’t used to.
· Close your blinds and turn on a fan or radio to provide background noise.
· Distract your pet with lots of toys and hugs
· Don’t take your pet to events featuring fireworks.
If your pet should escape, be sure to check with the OKC Animal Welfare daily.
It is equally important to keep the extreme heat in mind regarding furry family members.
“Pet owners who enjoy spending time outdoors in the warm weather often bring their pets along,” said Dr. Elisabeth Giedt, director of Continuing Education and Dean of Veterinary Medicine at Oklahoma State University.
“But just as a person takes heat precautions for themselves, they should do the same for their pets,” she said.
“Heat stroke, also known as hyperthermia, occurs when your pet severely overheats,” Giedt said. “Heat exhaustion can be even more dangerous for animals than it is for humans because they don’t sweat like people do.”
“Dogs rely on panting to cool themselves. If an animal is confined to an enclosed space with poor ventilation, such as inside of a car or garage, it can quickly suffer from heat stress, heat exhaustion or heat stroke.”
According to the Humane Society of the United States, on an 85-degree day, the temperature inside a car with the windows opened slightly, even in the shade, can reach 102 degrees within 10 minutes. After 30 minutes, the temperature will reach 120 degrees. Pets may suffer irreversible organ damage or even die.
This is especially true for young, old or overweight dogs and cats. Brachycephalic breeds such as Pugs, English bulldogs and Persian cats are especially susceptible.
Shade is required for pets that live confined to the yard. Do not tether a pet as the leash or rope can become tangled sometimes stranding the animal in the sun.
All animals, especially those that are outside, require a continuous supply of cool water in containers that cannot be tipped over. Place ice cubes or small frozen containers of water in the pet’s water bowl.
“Providing a shady and well-ventilated spot for outdoor pets will keep them cooler. You can even place some cold, wet towels in your pet’s sleeping area,” Giedt said. “If your pet sleeps in a dog house, wet towels are especially good because the temperature inside the house can get quite hot.”
Many pet owners enjoy jogging with their pets, but over exertion in hot weather can easily cause them to overheat. Plus, the hot pavement can burn their pads.
Signs a dog is suffering from heat stress or stroke may include body temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit or above, elevated heart rate, excessive panting, dark or bright red tongue and gums, staring and unresponsive, staggering, seizures, bloody diarrhea, vomiting or even in a state of collapse.
Emergency treatment for this condition includes sponging the animal’s neck and groin area with cool water till its body temperature is lowered. Contact your veterinarian immediately, as the pet may require further treatment.
According to the ASPCA, a ‘summer cut’ is okay, but never shave your dog: The layers of dogs’ coats protect them from overheating and sunburn.
“Your veterinarian is a great source of information about keeping your pet safe during the summer heat,” Giedt added.
Keep pets safe by having a collar with tags and a leash handy at all times. If possible, have your dog microchipped.
“Bring your animals inside when the temperatures become too extreme,” Bank said. “If it’s too hot for you outside, it’s too hot for your pets.”
For more information, visit the OKC Animal Shelter Facebook page or call 405-297-3100.