This weekend is Independence Day weekend, and it is also the time of year that more dogs go missing than the rest of the year. I remember when I was little, our collie ran away while we were in NJ visiting my grandmother, all because someone was shooting off fireworks. The dog freaked and jumped the fence, never to be found.

Remember that dogs and cats have much sharper hearing than we do, so what may not seem all that loud to us could very well frighten your pet. Some animals are more social than others, and they enjoy having people over or going with you to the park or beach, but others shy away from the hoopla, and it's important to know what your pet is like in these situations.

One thing you should always do is have an ID tag on your dog, and even on cats who wear collars. Make sure the collars are clearly marked with your information, such as phone number, so you can be tracked down in case your pet gets loose. Consider getting your dog or cat microchipped if they are not already. Keep in mind, however, that not all shelters are equipped to scan the microchip if your pet is found and brought in to them. The most important thing is to be prepared just in case your furbaby gets loose, even if they are normally an indoor pet. Having proper ID gives you much better odds of having them returned safely.

If you plan on attending a fireworks display, think twice about bringing your pet. Fireworks are dangerous, and of course very loud. Not only the noise is dangerous, but in case your dog is one of those who likes to eat anything and everything, they may try to eat fireworks too, or even get into the lighter fluid, etc. Keep your pets safe and leave them home indoors if possible.

It's always a good idea to have a safe area for your pet at home, somewhere they can retreat to if the noise is too much for them. It could be a crate, a separate room, etc. It's also a good practice to let them spend time in that space before the actual event, so they can get into the habit of knowing it is safe for them to be there, whether you are with them or not.

Here are some other tips to keep in mind while enjoying your summer. Keep alcohol away from your pets. While that nice tall ale may quench your thirst, it could be deadly for your pet. Another thing is the use of bug sprays. Insect repellants, coils, and even citronella candles can make your pet sick.

You also want to stay away from foods that can harm your pet. Most of us know now that chocolate can be harmful, even deadly, to your dog or cat. Other foods such as grapes and raisins, onions, generally anything that is small enough they could choke on...keep your pet away from those.

So, what's a pet owner to do? You may want to keep your pet indoors, as I said earlier, or you may want to hire a pet sitter or someone you know who is good and dependable to watch your pet while you are away. There are several pet resorts and day care options available in the Hudson Valley now too, and that's always a great idea. If you must bring your dog along, be sure to have it leashed properly and by your side. It helps them feel safer too. Have a safe and happy summer season, and keep it safe for your pet too!