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July 4th Safety: Crowds, Fireworks, Cookouts & More

With the Fourth of July approaching, you are probably looking forward to fireworks, parades, and fun cookouts with friends and family, but all of these festivities can be scary and even dangerous for our pets. Whether you’re hosting a barbecue in your backyard or planning to go to your local fireworks display, it’s important to keep your pet’s safety in mind. Fourth of July cookouts come along with many foods and other substances that are toxic for pets, while the loud noises and bright flashes associated with fireworks can be very frightening. Whatever your plans are this Fourth of July holiday, we recommend following these tips to keep your pet happy and safe:


Make sure your pet’s identification is up-to-date. Loud fireworks cause many pets to bolt or jump fences. If your pet becomes lost without proper identification, it is very hard to get them back. Make sure your pet’s ID tags are clearly labeled with your current phone number and any other important contact information. If your pet isn’t microchipped, now is the perfect time to have this simple and painless procedure done! Hospitals and animal shelters across the country have special microchip scanners that can read your contact information. This means your pet can safely return home! If your pet already has a microchip, make sure the contact information is up-to-date.


Keep insect repellent, sunscreen, and citronella candles away from pets. Products that are safe for humans aren’t always safe for pets. Do not apply sunscreen or insect repellent to your pet unless it is specially made for pets and clearly labeled as pet-friendly. Make sure to keep these products out of your pet’s reach too. Ingestion of sunscreen can lead to drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst, and lethargy, while insect repellent containing DEET may cause neurological problems and inhalation of citronella products can cause aspiration pneumonia.


Don’t give your pet human food, especially alcohol. At Fourth of July picnics and cookouts, it’s important to keep your pet away from toxic food and beverages. Alcoholic drinks, including beer, are poisonous for pets. Many other festive barbecue foods are harmful for pets, including onions, salt, avocado, grapes, coffee, yeast dough, chocolate, and other sweet desserts. Keep in mind, although rich and fatty meats are not poisonous, too much can lead to dangerous health conditions such as gastroenteritis and even pancreatitis. If you are hosting a get-together, make sure that food and drinks are out of your pet’s reach and kindly ask your guests not to share human food with your pet.


Don’t bring your pet to fireworks or other crowded celebrations. Fireworks displays can be very frightening for pets. It’s always better to leave your pet at home in a safe and escape-proof location. If you know your pet does not like large crowds, it’s best not to bring them to parades or other daytime Fourth of July festivities either.


Keep glow sticks away from pets. The substance inside of glow sticks and glow jewelry is not highly poisonous, but ingestion can still cause excessive drooling and gastrointestinal irritation. More dangerously, if your pet swallows a large piece of plastic, it can result in intestinal blockage.


Never use fireworks or sparklers around pets. If you’re lighting your own fireworks, keep your pet inside and make sure to check your yard for debris before allowing your pet outside again. Even unused fireworks pose a threat to your pet, as many types contain toxic substances, such as arsenic, potassium nitrate, and other heavy metals. Importantly, store fireworks in a secure place your pet cannot reach.


Watch the temperature. Too much heat and humidity is dangerous for pets. Make sure your pet has plenty of access to shade and water when outside. Keep your pet inside when it’s extremely hot or humid. Most importantly, never leave a pet in a parked car when it’s warm outside. Cars heat up very fast, so even a short time in a locked car can be fatal.


If you follow these tips, you are sure to have a fun, celebratory, and safe Fourth of July holiday for you and your pets!