Celebrating the independence of our nation offers a wonderful excuse for people to get trashed and detonate colorful combustibles — but what of our four-legged companions?
They may enjoy the barbecue, no matter that your Uncle Sal insists on preparing hot dogs on a Foreman Grill, but too much food, loud fireworks and excessive heat can make the Fourth one of the busiest days for veterinarians.
According to a type of software used in more than 2,000 vet offices that was recently profiled on CNBC, "emergency visits to the vet go up 48 percent" on the Fourth of July. For those math-challenged readers, that's an increase of almost 50 percent.
Natalie Smith, a veterinarian at Central Houston Animal Hospital, told the Houston Press that the reported increase definitely applies to her clinic. She says the office sees an uptick in dogs that freak out over fireworks and hurt themselves while running away.
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The vets at Central Houston also tend to see a lot of dogs who get sick from all the food slipped their way at friends-and-family gatherings.
She recommends keeping your critter indoors on the holiday — preferably in a windowless room — to keep him or her cool and away from the loud fireworks. Thundershirts help with anxiety, and in really bad cases, anti-anxiety meds might be warranted. If your dog is outdoors, make sure he or she has plenty of water and shade — especially longhaired breeds. Smushy-faced breeds, who already have narrow airways, are also more susceptible to overheating. If your dog should get too hot, don't just douse him or her with cold water, because that could cause shock — apply room-temperature water and fan them.
Also, because a lot of dogs get lost on the Fourth — they run like the dickens from the booming-and-banging — it's especially important to make sure your dog is microchipped, and to make sure that all the information in the microchip company's owner database is current. Too often, Smith says, vets come across missing data, rendering the chip worthless.
And, although it shouldn't even have to be said, don't leave your dog in the car. The Founding Fathers didn't shake the tyranny of King George just so some dummy could leave a dachshund in a Datsun. That's so not patriotic.