Ensuring a safe Fourth of July for pets

DENVER -- The Fourth of July is an American tradition, full of festivities, but for pets, it’s not always a festive time.

Pet Sitters International (PSI) recommends that pet owners take precautions to ensure their pets have a safe and happy Independence Day.

“With the excitement of the celebration, it can be easy to forget that not all traditions are a good fit for pets,” explained PSI President Patti J. Moran.

PSI offers these simple tips to keep pets healthy and happy this Fourth of July:

1. Keep pets inside during celebrations. Fireworks can be terrifying for pets, and a neighborhood that is normally quiet but becomes busy and loud on the Fourth of July can also cause undue stress—even to pets who are normally outside. When fireworks are likely to go off in your neighborhood or nearby, be sure to keep your pet inside in a safe space. Close all doors and windows, and turn on the television or play calming music.

2. Make sure your pet wears an identification tag. It’s a good idea to make sure your pet is wearing a tag with your name and contact information—or the contact information for a professional pet sitter who will be watching the pet. If your pet somehow escapes the property in a moment of panic over loud noises from fireworks or other celebrations, an ID could be vital to ensuring your pet gets back to you. You may also want to consider microchipping your pet.

3. Watch out for unsafe foods and decorations. If you are planning a holiday gathering or party, be sure to keep your pet away from the grill, as well as alcohol and any unsafe foods. While you may be aware of substances that are bad for your pets—for example, chocolate, xylitol, macadamia nuts, grapes, raisins, onions, avocado and bread dough—other guests may not be.

You should also take special care to keep your pet away from décor that could cause harm if chewed on or ingested, as well as any used or unused fireworks, which may look tasty to pets due to their shiny or colorful wrappers. Keep festive items like sparklers and glow sticks away from animals.

4. Don’t just hire a pet lover to watch your pet. If your Fourth of July plans will keep you away from home, your pet could benefit from the services of a professional pet sitter. Your pet will be happier at home, away from crowds, fireworks and loud noises. PSI advises pet owners to only use the services of professional pet sitters.

“Just because someone is a pet lover and has a profile on an online directory—or even on a nationally-publicized site—doesn’t ensure he or she is a qualified pet sitter operating a legitimate business,” said PSI Vice-President Beth Stultz. “In today’s sharing economy anyone can offer their services online, so it’s important for pet owners to take a closer look to ensure they are hiring not just a pet lover, but a pet lover who is also a true pet-care professional.”

Pet owners can download a free Pet-Sitter Interview Checklist and search PSI’s Pet Sitter Locator free of charge at www.petsit.com/locate.