While we may enjoy the picnics and fireworks, these celebrations are often quite scary and even dangerous for pets, so it’s usually best for them to stay safe at home. If your pet is involved with Independence Day celebrations, be sure to avoid access to:
Unattended alcohol – consumption can cause intoxication, weakness, depression, or even coma and death from respiratory failure.
Sunscreen or bug spray not labelled for pet use – don’t apply anything that hasn’t been shown to be safe for use on pets. Licking off the sunscreen can cause drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst, or sleepiness. Bug spray with DEET can cause neurologic symptoms.
Matches and lighter fluid – matches containing chlorates can cause anemia, difficulty breathing, or even kidney damage. Lighter fluid is irritating to the skin with contact, lungs if inhaled, and the digestive tract if eaten, and it can even cause neurologic depression.
Table scraps – avoid an emergency vet trip for diarrhea, vomiting, or pancreatitis by keeping your pet on her normal diet. Remember that many popular human foods can be toxic to pets: onions, chocolate, coffee, avocado, grapes, raisins, salt, and yeast dough. Consider keeping safe dog treats on hand for guests that can’t resist feeding your pet.
Glow sticks – he might look cute sporting one, but the glowing substance inside is irritating to the mouth/stomach if chewed on and ingesting large pieces of plastic can cause intestinal blockage.
Charcoal, kabob skewers, hot grills, and sparklers – these are common sources of injury to curious pets! Please make sure to dispose of meat trays and other food containers to prevent ingestion of plastic/Styrofoam and collect/dispose of fat drippings to keep pets away.
Citronella candles, insect coils, tiki torch oil – ingesting these products irritates the stomach and can even cause neurologic depression. Inhaling the oils can also damage pet lungs.
Crowds and fireworks – while the festivities are fun for us, they are generally terrifying and disorienting to pets. Help your pet avoid the panic by hiding out in a quiet room or crate at home while carefully avoiding unexpected escapes, which spike annually around the 4th of July. After the celebration, make sure all the firework debris is picked up before curious pets go back outside, as fireworks contain chemicals and heavy metals that are unsafe to play with or eat.
Excessive heat, sun, humidity – heat stroke can be fatal. Keep your pet cool indoors when it’s excessively hot/humid out, and make sure she has access to shade and fresh water when outside. And NEVER leave your pet inside the car when it’s warm outside!
Escapes – visitors and new sights/sounds increase the risk of panic and fleeing. Make sure your guests are aware your pets need to stay indoors and consider posting warning notes at doors/gates.
Top tips for pets with a known fear of fireworks or other loud noises:
Consider starting the well-studied and proven safe natural anxiety supplement, Anxitane, a week or so in advance of firework season, or talk to us if you think your pet might benefit from an anti-anxiety medication over the holiday.
Keep your pet in an interior room without windows or with covered windows and play soft calming music (we LOVE iCalmPet music and even have their speakers in our exam rooms!). A frozen, stuffed treat is a great distraction (but if your pet is too anxious to eat, it’s time to talk to us about medications to help).
Thundershirts, snuggly-fitted vests, work very well for some pets.
Leave your pet at home during firework shows, parades, or parties.
Don’t forget the kitties! While they might not be as obvious about their firework and celebration fear, many cats are quite traumatized by the festivities. Most of them simply hide, but be sure to check on them regularly, make sure they have secure hiding places, and consider keeping them indoors during the holiday season.
How to make sure others can identify your pet:
Despite best efforts, many frightened or disoriented pets will still escape and become lost this time of year. Please make sure your pet is wearing a visible ID tag and consider having him microchipped (and make sure existing chips are still up to date with registration!). Take a recent photo of your pet, just in case.