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As the Fourth of July approaches, we think fondly of fun, food and fireworks. Your pet can probably sense your excitement, but there’s a good chance your dog or cat is scared of fireworks. For them, the Independence Day celebration is a literal explosion of chaos in their day-to-day routines. Trying to get ahead of some specific summer holiday safety issues to help keep your pawed-pals calm and happy. It will also keep you from forgoing festivities for a trip to the veterinarian.

Cookouts are for Hot Dogs, Not… Dogs

Pet parents are often focused on the more obvious seasonal pet safety issues, like fireworks. But they may overlook the backyard BBQ, which is a particularly dangerous Fourth of July activity for pets.

If you plan to have your pooch in the backyard when you fire up the grill with your friends and family, keep these hidden hazards in mind:

The Grill

The danger is not just from heat and smoke. In fact, a grill can be dangerous before it’s even lit. Lighter fluid and matches are hazardous for your pet. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® (ASPCA®) Animal Poison Control Center points out that many matches contain chlorates. If your pup eats them, it can damage blood cells and cause breathing problems or, in the worst cases, kidney disease.

Lighter fluid, on the other hand, is an irritant. And if it can irritate the skin on the outside, it can irritate sensitive organs on the inside too. If a pet ingests lighter fluid, it can cause tummy irritation and central nervous system depression. Even inhalation of the fumes can cause breathing problems.

Alcoholic Beverages

A cocktail or beer can be a festive and relaxing way to enjoy the holiday, but that drink is a potential poison for your dog. If left low enough, a pet looking to quench their thirst could get into your beverage. Alcoholic intoxication in pets can result in weakness, depression, coma, respiratory failure and even death. This is true even for beer, so keep the cold ones out of reach!

People Food

Pets need a consistent diet. Changes can cause messy tummy troubles. And certain foods that commonly accompany celebrations, like chocolate, onions, and avocados, can be toxic to your furry fried. Resist the urge to give them any BBQ scraps, even for the “special occasion.” Beyond the Fourth of July, we’ve got a list of 16 things you should definitely never feed your pet.

While you’re a vigilant pet parent, accidents can happen, leading to emergency veterinary visits you may not be able to afford. Dog insurance can help you avoid this situation. Get your quote now.

Other Outdoor Independence Day Dangers

The Fourth of July occurs as summer is in full swing. There are several seasonal concerns you should take into account if you’re planning to be out with your pooch.

Heat

Your canine companion has to work hard to maintain body temperature. They do this by panting and through specialized sweat glands on the pads of their feet. The best way to keep them cool is to keep them out of the sun and well hydrated. Make sure you always have water on hand for your dog and keep water bowls from direct sunlight.

Water

If you’re planning a day at the beach or lake, know your dog’s swimming ability. Not all breeds are natural swimmers. Even frolicking in the waves could be hazardous. When pooches ingest saltwater through too much exposure, it can lead to electrolyte imbalances and possible seizures. If you’re on a boat, it’s recommended that your dog have a personal flotation device too.

Sun

Dog fur does a pretty good job of protecting their skin from the sun, but shorthaired breeds can still be susceptible to skin damage. Sunscreen can help you protect your pup from UV rays, but make sure you choose one made specifically for dogs. Some ingredients in human sunscreen, like zinc oxide, are toxic to canines largely leading to unpleasantness like vomiting.

Bugs

Insects that are annoying or harmful to humans are annoying and harmful to pets as well. In fact, mosquitos can carry diseases that dogs and cats are more likely to contract than humans. The biggest risk from mosquitos for pooches is heartworms. Mosquitos carrying heartworms are found everywhere in the U.S. and exposure is fairly common. But preventative measures are very easy to come by. Using a regular heartworm preventative can save your pooches life.

Another risk, while rare, can affect both cats and dogs. Eastern equine encephalitis virus, known as EEEV, is also carried by mosquitos, which makes controlling the pests all the more important.

When controlling pests, keep in mind that citronella can be harmful to pets. Citronella fume inhalation can cause pneumonia, and citronella ingestion can lead to nervous system disorders. The same goes for insect repellant. So only use repellant made specifically for pets. Also, be particularly cautious of repellents containing DEET. And if you’re using those repellants on yourself, make sure you keep the dog kisses to a minimum.

People Playthings

The summer is full of cool recreational toys that make the warmer days more fun. Of course, you know your furry friend likes to play, too. However, plastic toys that aren’t made for pets can get damaged and ingested, causing trouble in your pet’s system. The biggie on the Fourth of July is glow jewelry that, if chewed on and broken open, can be incredibly toxic to your dog or cat. Resist the urge to get them glowing for the holiday.

Consider the Great Indoors

While your feline friends should always be inside, pups are full of energy and like a romp in the great outdoors. The problem with being outside at any time during the Fourth of July, aside from the dangers or hazards listed above, is that the crashes and bangs aren’t only reserved for after dark.

The loud chaos surrounding our favorite patriotic celebration can lead nervous pets to escape, break leads and run away to find shelter. The Fourth of July holiday is notorious for being the top time of year for lost and runaway pets.

Because of this, many veterinarians suggest keeping your dog inside at all times during the holiday, and not just at night when the fireworks are the loudest. It will most likely be the safest and most comfortable place for them.

Even if they’re inside, and chipped, all pets should have secure collars and ID tags.

Fourth Fireworks and Your Furry Friends

The biggest highlight of the Fourth of July holiday is a visual treat for you, but not for your dog or cat. Even if you haven’t noticed a noise phobia in your pet pal, extreme sensitivity to sound can develop with age.

Even if your dog hasn’t been traditionally frightened of fireworks, staying home is probably the best option for your pet. And you can help them stay calm by making sure their environment is just right.

Familiar Spaces

To help your pooch or kitty stay comfy, keep them in a cool, familiar escape-proof room, or in their crate.

Distractions

Consider offering a special pet-friendly treat or new toy that can help distract your pet from the loud booms.

White Noise

The static sound that you find between radio channels is a perfect example of white noise, which works well to drown out outside noise. You can get white noise from fans, too. Make sure to close windows, and draw curtains and blinds to add an extra layer of sound-proofing.

In the end, if you can go without watching fireworks yourself, your pet would probably appreciate your companionship during this stressful time. Nothing helps more than some kindness and lots of TLC.

Check out this handy infographic and send it along to any pet parents you think could benefit.


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