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How to prepare your pets for the Fourth of July

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Posted at 10:37 AM, Jul 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-03 10:37:15-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Veterinarians are urging pet owners to take precautions to keep their pets safe during the Fourth of July weekend.

According to BluePearl Veterinary Partners, animal hospitals see as much as a 25 percent increase in patients on the Fourth of July.

“July 4 is a very busy time for emergency and critical care veterinarians,” said Dr. Jennifer Holm, a BluePearl veterinarian and group medical director who is board-certified in emergency and critical care. “Pets get injured, they eat all sorts of things they wouldn’t normally be eating, and many get very stressed out by fireworks.”

It’s good to plan for obvious Fourth of July dangers like firecrackers, but there are some hazards you may not think about, like foods that make pets sick.

Here is information and advice from Dr. Jill Sackman, the senior medical director of BluePearl’s Michigan hospitals:

  • Foreign body hazards. It’s not unusual for emergency veterinarians to treat dogs with a corn cob or a rib bone they have swallowed.  So be careful of what your dog may find by prowling the ground or open trash cans.  Read more about the dangers of bones in particular here.
  • Open doors. If you have guests, your front door will open multiple times. And with fireworks blasting outside, your cats and dogs may panic and bolt out the door. Keep a close watch.
  • Food that makes pets sick. If you’re hosting a barbecue, be careful about what gets fed to your pets, on purpose or accidentally.  Foods that can sicken dogs include: avocados, apple seeds, caffeinated beverages or alcohol, onions, potatoes, grapes, tomatoes, chocolate and sugar-free gum containing xylitol.
  • Other dogs. A block party brings together the whole neighborhood, including dogs who might be extra jittery by the general noise and chaos. Agitated dogs may bite. Consider keeping your dog at home.
  • Water. Do not assume all pets know how to swim.  A crowded pool party is probably not the best time to find out.
  • And at the risk of stating the obvious, don’t let your pets anywhere near where people are setting off their own fireworks.

Above all, be sure to use common sense and keep your pets safe.