The Coast News Group
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Make July 4 pet-friendly

COAST CITIES — The Fourth of July is the perfect time to celebrate our independence with family, food and fun. However, approached without caution, summer fun can quickly turn frightening—or fatal— for our four-legged friends.“It seems like every year, someone’s dog has such an anxiety attack from the fireworks that they either break out of the house or destroy a lot inside the house,” said Michele Drake, veterinarian and owner of The Drake Center for Veterinary Care in Encinitas. “For a dog to chew the molding off the door or jump through the screen window, they must be pretty scared.”

From overwhelming noise to overheating and obstruction, this summer holiday can mean significant danger for your pet. Keep your animals safe all summer long with these tips.

— Stay Close- If left alone, pets can funnel their anxiety into destruction—including vocalizing, digging and chewing or run away. While calming products like pheromones, sedatives and even Thundershirts can provide some relief for stressed pets, Drake said the ideal solution is to simply stay home.

— Be Prepared – If you must be away from home, never to leave a pet outside on Independence Day, especially in the evening.

— Keep Fido Away from the Barbecue – dogs often don’t discriminate what they eat and if you’ve got a busy grill, you may not notice what your pup is getting into. This can cause serious gastrointestinal cases. Drake said. “We’ve had to surgically remove champagne corks, wooden skewers, bones and corn cobs from these animals’ intestines.”

— Beat the Heat – Heat stroke is a deadly condition veterinarians see every summer. It is most commonly caused when an owner leaves his/her pet unattended in a parked vehicle. Not only is this act illegal, on a sunny day, it can take only minutes for the temperature inside a car to rise. Heat stroke can also occur with strenuous exercise or even if a pet is kept outdoors without access to shade. Signs of heat stroke include rapid, intense panting, weakness, ataxia (staggering gait), collapse, pale and/or dry gums, a temperature of 105 degrees or higher.

Immediate treatment of heat stroke is critical. Spray your pet down or place him/her in a tub of cool water and seek veterinary care immediately. Monitoring your pet’s temperature throughout the treatment process is very important, as it is possible to cool the pet down too much, resulting in hypothermia and further complications. Complications of heat stroke can include kidney failure, problems with blood coagulation, septic shock and heart arrhythmias or death.

To prevent heat stroke and other warm weather issues:

— Offer water to your dog every 15 minutes. Also, be sure to bring water for both of you on all outings and walks.

— Do not take your dog to the beach between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. unless you provide shade and foot protection. Paw pads are sensitive and can burn on scorching sand.

— Use caution while exercising. Early morning or evening is the best time to exercise your pet during the summer months. Also, be mindful of hot pavement on your pet’s feet. Protective booties may help.

— Consider shaving pets with heavy coats if they spend a significant amount of time in the heat. Remember, though, your pet can get sunburned, too.