CAS warns: Secure your pets for the 4th

File Photo (WCIV)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- If you're setting off fireworks at home for the Fourth, the Charleston Animal Society has some helpful tips to keep your furry friends from freaking out at the sounds of celebration.

One of the more important things is to not take your pet to the party with you.

CAS officials say to keep pets comfortable and secured at home so they don't run off.

"The Independence Day holiday is a wonderful time to enjoy the rare natural beauty this area affords," says Joe Elmore, Chief Executive Officer of Charleston Animal Society.{}"However, it is important to remember that what are simple recreational pleasures for our families and us also contain many inherent dangers for our pets. {}Heat indexes in excess of 100 degrees and the sounds of exploding fireworks are extremely stressful to them, both physically and psychologically."

With these conditions in mind, Charleston Animal Society offers pet owners a number of simple steps for helping animals beat the heat and have a happy and healthy summer:

{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{} Keep Them Cool.{} Dogs and cats can become dehydrated quickly, so it is imperative to provide them with plenty of water when it is hot outdoors. Pets should also have a shady place to escape the sun if outside and they should never linger on hot asphalt during periods of extreme heat. This can cause an animal to heat up quickly, and sensitive paw pads can burn.{} Further, "pet owners should never leave their animals unattended in a parked vehicle," explains Dr. Lucy Fuller, Charleston Animal Society's Director of Public Health and Spay/Neuter Initiatives. "Even with windows open, parked cars become very hot in a short amount of time, and can quickly lead to heatstroke or death."

{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{} Spot the Symptoms. Signs of overheating in pets include increased heart rate, excessive drooling and panting, difficulty breathing, weakness, elevated body temperature (over 104 degrees), and even seizures.{} Elderly, overweight, and pets with heart or lung diseases are especially at risk for heatstroke.{} Pets with short muzzles like pugs, bulldogs and Persian cats become overheated because they cannot effectively pant.{} These pets should be kept in air conditioning to stay cool.

{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{} Visit the Vet.{} A visit to the veterinarian for a spring or early summer check-up is a must.{} Make sure your pet is up-to-date on all necessary vaccinations.{} Pets should also be given a blood test for heartworm disease every year in the early spring.{} The deadly parasite is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito, and dogs and cats should be on monthly preventive medication year-round.

{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{} Pest-Free Pets.{} Commonly used flea and tick products, rodenticides, insecticides and many lawn products can be harmful to cats and dogs if ingested.{} "When walking your dog, steer clear of areas you suspect have been sprayed with insecticides or other lawn products," Dr. Fuller stresses. "Citronella candles, oil products and insect coils should also be kept out of pets' reach."{} Some flea products that are safe for dogs can be deadly to cats. Read the directions on all flea and tick products carefully and follow the label instructions to the letter.

{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{} Parties Can Be Dangerous! {}Summertime can be perfect for backyard barbecues or parties; but remember the food and drink you serve your guests may be poisonous to pets.{} Keep alcoholic beverages away from pets, and remember that the snacks you serve your friends are not treats for your pet.{} Any change of diet - even for one meal - may cause severe digestive ailments in animals.{} It is especially important to keep them away from raisins, grapes, onions, chocolate, alcohol and products with the sweetener xylitol, since these are poisonous to pets.

{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{} Fireworks: Fun for Family, Not for Fido.{}{} Leave pets at home when you head out for fireworks, and don't ignite them around pets.{} Aside from the potentially traumatizing effects of explosions, exposure to lit fireworks may result in severe burns to curious pets. Unused fireworks can also be hazardous.{} Many contain potentially toxic substances such as potassium nitrate, copper, chlorates, arsenic and other heavy metals.

{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{} Keep Incendiaries Out of Reach.{} Certain types of matches contain chlorates, which could potentially damage blood cells and result in difficulty breathingor even kidney disease in severe cases.{} Lighter fluid can be irritating to skin, and if ingested can produce gastrointestinal distress and central nervous system depression.{} If lighter fluid is inhaled, aspiration pneumonia and breathing problems could develop.

{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{} Splash Safely.{} Not all dogs are good swimmers and should never be left unsupervised around any body of water.{} Introduce your pets to water gradually and make sure they wear a flotation device on board a boat.{} Rinse your dog after swimming to remove chlorine or salt from fur, and try to keep your dog from drinking pool water, which contains chlorine and other chemicals that could upset their stomachs.{} It is also crucial to keep them away from concentrated pool chemicals, as they are highly toxic to animals if ingested.

{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{} Be Careful With Sunscreen or Insect Repellents.{} Ingestion of sunscreen products can result in drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst and lethargy.{} The misuse of insect repellent that contains DEET can lead to neurological problems.

{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{} Beware of "High-Rise Syndrome".{} During warmer months, many animal hospitals and veterinarians see an increase in injured animals as a result of "High-Rise Syndrome," which occurs when pets fall out of high-story windows and are seriously or fatally injured.{} Keep all unscreened windows in your home closed and make sure adjustable screens are tightly secured.

{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{} Love the Leash.{} Warm weather can lead to longer walks, and sometimes the summer is the first time pet owners have the opportunity to take their dog outside for extended periods.{} While fun for both dogs and their owners, it is important that they always be kept on leash, with a collar and ID tag to protect them from getting loose and injuring themselves or others.

{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{} Glow Jewelry is a Potential Danger.{} While the luminescent substance contained in these products is not highly toxic, excessive drooling and gastrointestinal irritation could still result from ingestions, and intestinal blockage could occur from swallowing large pieces of the plastic containers.

Each year, the Charleston Animal Society experiences one of its busiest days on July 5 as runaway pets are brought in to hopefully be reunited with their owners.

If your four-legged friend ends up missing, the best thing to do is visit local shelters with a picture and description of your animal. You can also email the Charleston Animal Society a picture of your pet.