Summer vacation and July Fourth should be fun, but the “rockets’ red glare” and “bombs bursting in air” often give pets a serious scare. Read on for our top five countdown to a safe summer and a happy July Fourth. We start with summer pet travel safety, and end with a discussion of pet noise aversion.

#5: Pet summer travel safety

When planning your summer vacation, ensure your pet’s safety and well-being on the road. The first rule of travel preparation is to pack a pet first aid kit, which should include emergency clinic numbers, your pet’s medical records, extra pet medications, and bandage materials. Update your pet’s vaccines at least two weeks before you leave, so they have time to build immunity to common diseases they may encounter. Remember—if your pet is prone to motion sickness in the car, we have prescriptions that can help.

The biggest threat to your pet’s safety this summer vacation is the heat. A study of closed cars in warm weather found a 20-degree increase in temperature in 10 minutes, and a 33-degree increase in 20 minutes. Make it a routine—“Park the car and check for pets.” This habit ensures that, amid the excitement and distractions of a summer vacation, you will check your car before you leave.

#4: Pet water recreation safety

Be vigilant and aware of your pet’s location at all times when around water. According to the Aquatics Safety Connection, certain colors can help keep pets safe. Studies show neon orange is the easiest color to spot from the water’s surface, so use “hunter orange” collars, harnesses, and pet life jackets for pets on or near the water. If boating will be part of your July Fourth celebration, gradually acclimate pets to boat rides before the big day. Don’t force your pet if they seem reluctant—some pets enjoy boating more than others. A gradual introduction to the water will help determine whether your pet also enjoys swimming. 

#3: Pet cookout safety

Keep pets away from campfires, grills, and firepits. Hot food often smells too tasty to resist, and pets can easily burn their mouths. If pets eat unusual food, especially high-fat food, gastroenteritis and pancreatitis can follow. Don’t toss unwanted food on the ground near pets, because they will make a beeline and eat not only the food, but also whatever it landed on, including gravel, leaves, or sticks. Our Medina Veterinary Clinic team has provided urgent care to dogs with bloody diarrhea who have eaten items such as Cool Whip off the ground. Imagine trying to pass pine bark mulch. Ouch!

#2: Pet fireworks safety

The label instructions on fireworks read, “Light fuse and get away.” Ensure that pets as well as people “get away” when the fireworks start. You naturally want to include your pets in the family festivities but when the sun goes down and the fireworks begin, the negatives may outweigh the positives for your pet. In addition to the risk of physical injury, some pets can become extremely psychologically stressed and anxious around fireworks, which leads us to the number one summer pet safety concern—noise aversion.

#1: Pet noise safety

Pet noise aversion signs range widely in severity. Some pets repeatedly lick their lips and shake, while others destroy furniture and injure themselves. Other signs include shaking, vocalizing, hiding, clinging, circling, pacing, panting, and yawning. Some noise-averse pets display anxiety in other areas, such as separation or storms, and they often get worse as they age.

To help pets who suffer from noise aversion, consult with our team or a veterinary behavior specialist to develop a pet behavior modification plan, which may include such techniques as distracting and redirecting. Complementary therapy helps some pets, such as compression pet wear (i.e., a thunder shirt), and T-touch techniques and gear. Other non-pharmaceutical aids include calming  supplements, dog or cat pheromones, acupuncture and massage, calming colors, white noise, and calming music. The Fear-Free program videos provide helpful instruction on implementing these techniques.

Pets often require prescription medication in combination with the above techniques to achieve relief. We may prescribe Sileo, a tranquilizer developed specifically for canine noise aversion that can be given ahead of the noise event to calm your pet without excessive sedation. Medications such as Clomicalm, a daily psychiatric medication, also may work for some dogs. 

Medina Veterinary Clinic wants you and your pets to have a safe and happy July Fourth. Set up an appointment with our caring team to further discuss any concerns, and to develop a treatment plan for your pet’s noise aversion. Whether during family trips or neighborhood cookouts, avoid pet pitfalls and celebrate safely with your pet this summer.