Monday, July 02, 2007

ASPCA Offers Pet Safety Tips for Independence Day

For many, nothing beats spending the Fourth of July with friends and family-including the four-legged members of the household. While it may seem like a great idea to bring Rover along to watch the fireworks or reward him with scraps from the grill, it's important to remember that loud noises, rich foods and other hazards can be harmful to your pet. The ASPCA® offers the following tips for keeping your pet safe this Fourth of July holiday:

Loud, crowded fireworks displays are no fun for pets, so please resist the urge to take them to Independence Day festivities. Dr. Jennifer Lander of the ASPCA Pet Adoption Center in New York City recommends keeping pets indoors or-if need be-on secure harnesses and well-fitted collars when outside. "Each year pets are lost around this time," she says. "Frightened pets have a tendency to bolt when confronted with uncomfortable noises or situations."

Fireworks are very dangerous and should be used with extreme caution. "Pet parents should take extreme care to keep their loved ones out of harm's way of any fire or explosion," adds Dr. Lander. "Although they play a big part in celebrating of Independence Day, fireworks or sparklers can cause severe injuries when precautions aren't taken."

Keep pets cool when it's hot. Make sure your pets have plenty of water as they can get dehydrated very quickly. "It's very important that your pet has a shady spot to cool off in, especially if the weather is particularly hot," says Dr. Lander. "Animals can develop heatstroke, which can be fatal.

Keep citronella candles, insect coils and oil products out of reach. Dr. Steven Hansen, a board-certified veterinary toxicologist and Senior Vice President of the ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) has this reminder: "We should always be careful when we are around candles and fire, and pets are no exception. However, citronella candles, oils or insect repellents can produce stomach irritation in pets, and possibly even central nervous system depression-so make sure to keep them out of reach of your pets."

Do not apply sunscreen or insect repellent product to your pet that is not labeled specifically for use on animals. "The ingestion of sunscreen products can result in drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst and lethargy in pets," adds Dr. Hansen. "DEET is a common ingredient in sunscreens and repellents and is especially damaging to animals' nervous systems, so never use a product on your pet that has not been specifically formulated for her."

Always keep matches and lighter fluid out of your pets' reach. Dr. Hansen also cautions pet parents that certain types of matches contain chlorates, which if swallowed could result in difficulty breathing, or kidney disease in severe cases. "Also, lighter fluid is equally harmful. It can be irritating to the skin, and if ingested can produce digestive irritation, breathing problems, as well as weaken the central nervous system."

Never leave alcoholic drinks unattended where pets can reach them. "Never give any animal alcohol," alerts Dr. Hansen. "Alcoholic beverages can be poisonous to pets and if ingested, the animal could become extremely weak, severely depressed or could go into a coma." Death from respiratory failure is also a possibility in severe cases.

Keep your pets on their normal diet. Any change can give your pet severe indigestion and diarrhea. This is particularly true for older animals that have more delicate digestive systems and nutritional requirements. And keep in mind foods such as onions, chocolate, coffee, avocado, grapes & raisins, salt and yeast dough can all be potentially toxic to companion animals. Please visit for a complete list of harmful foods for pets.

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