By Nicole Abrego

As we celebrate the birth of our nation this Fourth of July holiday, some of us pet lovers may want to include our furry companions in on the festivities. Like most holidays, there are certain pet hazards that we as responsible pet owners need to ensure that our pets avoid. Check out our 5 tips for having a safe and pet-friendly Fourth of July.

Keep Your Pets Cool:

The Fourth of July holiday usually brings higher temps as we make our way into the heart of the summer season. Remembering important pet heat safety tips are key to keeping your pets cool during the hot weather:

  • Try to walk your dog during the cooler hours of the day, such as the early morning or evening.
  • Remember to watch the temperature of the pavement so your dog’s sensitive paw pads are not burnt due to hot asphalt.
  • Provide plenty of cold water and shade for your pet as they venture outside.
  • NEVER ever leave your pet alone in a locked car.

Stay Away From the Grill:

What’s a Fourth of July celebration without a BBQ? With all the tasty foods around, you may be tempted to sneak a treat for Fido. However, there are various human foods that are hazardous to pets and can potentially be fatal to them:

  • Leftover bones from ribs, chicken, and other meats: Pets may choke or suffer injury if the bone becomes lodged in their windpipe, esophagus, or digestive tract.
  • Fatty meats (such as hamburgers and steaks): Can cause inflammation of the pancreas,which can lead to vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Corn on the cob: Due to the shape and size of the corncob, it can often cause a dangerous blockage in your pet’s intestines and will require surgical intervention.
  • Avocados, Onions, Garlic, Grapes, and Chocolate: All these foods are very toxic to pets. A pet ingesting any of these foods can suffer from gastrointestinal issues, vomiting, diarrhea, and other serious conditions.
  • Alcoholic drinks: Can cause pet to become very intoxicated and weak or in severe cases, cause the pet to go into a coma or suffer respiratory failure.

Best to keep a close eye on your pet during the BBQ and remind all attendees to not feed the pets or keep the pets in a closed off area away from the tempting foods and drinks.

Avoid the Fireworks:

Watching a spectacular fireworks show at the end of the night perfectly completes any Fourth of July celebration. Although the spectacle of fireworks dazzling across the night sky may be fun for us humans to enjoy, the same cannot be said for our pets. Pets should be kept away from ALL forms of fireworks being used. Exposure to lit fireworks can potentially cause severe burns or trauma to pets that may become curious and get too close to them. Furthermore, unlit fireworks contain potentially toxic substances such as potassium nitrate, arsenic, and others. Pets should be kept indoors and away from fireworks at all times while they are being used. When the festivities are over, check your yard and be sure to pick up all fireworks debris before letting pets outside.

Leave Pets Indoors:

Many pets suffer from noise aversion and can become anxious due to the loud noises caused by fireworks. Loud noises in combination with new and unfamiliar people and places during celebration activities such as parties, parades, and fireworks displays can cause a lot of distress for your pet and become a very traumatic experience. Because of this, the best place for your pets to be during the holiday is at home. Keep your pets indoors in an escape-proof room. If your pet will be alone during the evening when the loud fireworks are going off, provide your pet with a safe space to relax. This can be a cozy closet or their crate (if they are crate trained) with a blanket over it to help comfort them. Leaving a TV on or playing relaxing music can help muffle out the loud scary fireworks sounds as well.

Our veterinarians also recommend using Sileo for dogs who suffer from noise aversion. Sileo is a dexmedetomidine specifically made to calm dogs during noise events without actually sedating them. Of course every dog is different and you should speak with your veterinarian or schedule an appointment to discuss the best way to handle your dog’s anxiety when it comes to noises.

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Have Proper Identification On Your Pet:

Did you know that the Fourth of July is the busiest day for animal shelters? This is mainly due to pets becoming frightened during loud firework displays and may result in them jumping a fence or running away in an attempt to seek a safe space. If a pet becomes lost, it’s incredibly important for your pet to have proper identification. The most common form of pet identification is a collar with an ID tag. The ID tag should include information such as your pet’s name and a current contact phone number that will most likely be answered.

Collars are not fool-proof, as there is a possibility that your pet may lose their collar or become lost without wearing it. Microchipping is a great form of permanent identification that will last for the lifetime of your pet. A microchip is a small chip that is inserted under your pet’s skin through a quick injection. This process is perfectly safe for all dogs and cats of any size. Once registered with a microchip company, you’ll be able to provide them your current contact information. Should your pet become lost, an animal shelter or veterinary hospital will be able to scan your pet’s microchip, obtain the microchip number, and be able to contact the microchip company to get your contact information so you can be notified that your pet has been found and they can be reunited with you.

We hope you and your pets have a fun and safe Fourth of July holiday! If you need to schedule an appointment or experience a pet emergency, contact us today.

The Drake Center for Veterinary Care is an AAHA-accredited animal hospital located in Encinitas, CA. The Drake Center loves being a source of information for all pet owners across the country however if you have any questions regarding pet care and do not live in Encinitas, CA or surrounding cities, we encourage you to contact your local veterinarian.