Fourth of July Safety Tips for Pets

The Fourth of July holiday is right around the corner, and most of us are looking forward to a weekend with friends and family, lots of food, and fireworks. But while Fourth of July traditions can be great fun for people, these patriotic festivities can be frightening and even dangerous for our furry friends.

According to the American Humane Association, July 5 is the busiest day of the year at animal shelters. Pets panic at the sound of fireworks and flee into the night, often winding up lost, injured, or killed.

In order to prevent your celebration from turning into a tragedy, follow these Fourth of July safety tips from the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association.

Safeguard your pet ahead of time. Make sure your pets—cats and dogs alike—have identification tags with up-to-date information. Your pet’s ID tag should include name, address, and telephone number. Remember, if your pet gets lost, this is his or her ticket home! And even with proper tags, make sure your pet is microchipped, and that all your contact information is up to date with the microchip registry.

Leave your pets at home when you go to parties, firework displays, parades, and other gatherings. Loud fireworks, unfamiliar places, and crowds can all be very frightening to pets, and there’s great risk of pets becoming spooked and running away. The safest place for your pet is at home in a closed, quiet room that’s familiar to your pet, with a safe place to rest and toys to distract them. Turn on the TV, radio, or a fan to help muffle scary noises from outside. Never leave pets alone outdoors, even if tethered or in a fenced yard. It is not uncommon for dogs to injure themselves in a frenzied attempt to escape if they become frightened.

If you must be outside with your dog or cat, be sure to have him or her securely on a leash, and remember that too much sun and heat can be dangerous to pets. Keep them inside when it’s extremely hot or humid, make sure they have access to shady spots and plenty of water, don’t leave them outside for extended periods of time, and know the signs that a pet may be overheating.

Never leave food or alcoholic drinks unattended where pets can reach them. Alcoholic beverages are poisonous to pets, and can cause vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, abnormal blood acidity, coma, and even death. Whether you’re hosting a barbeque or attending someone else’s, carry snacks specifically for your pet instead of offering them something from your plate. Popular summer party foods, such as salty snacks, avocado, chocolate, citrus, grapes and raisins, onions, garlic, and raw/undercooked meats can all be toxic to pets. If you think your pet may have gotten their paws on something poisonous, make sure you know the symptoms, and contact your veterinarian right away (or call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center immediately).

On a similar note, if you plan on using sunscreen or insect repellant on your pet, make sure it is meant for animal use. Some “people” products can be poisonous for pets and are potentially life-threatening. Signs that your pet has consumed something toxic include vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, and lethargy. If you think your pet is exhibiting these symptoms, take them to the nearest emergency animal hospital.

Once the festivities are over, check your yard for fireworks debris, food scraps, and other party remnants that could be harmful before allowing pets outside to play or relax.

The Fourth of July is a great time to celebrate and be with friends and family, enjoying all that summer has to offer. With just a little preparation and precaution, you can also make sure it’s a fun and safe holiday for you and your pets!

Thank you to our friends at the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association for these great tips. Join the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association on Facebook and receive tips on pet health, behavior, upcoming events, breaking news, and much more!