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12 Pet Safety Tips for the Fourth of July

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dachshund walking in a fourth of July parade with a blue bowtie with white stars around his neck

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.

So, why are dogs scared of fireworks? For them, the Independence Day celebration is a literal explosion of chaos in their day-to-day routines. Try 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 Fourth of July dog safety tips do not end there. Many pet parents may overlook the backyard BBQ, 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 significant tummy irritation, central nervous system depression, and other issues should they vomit. 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. Certain foods that commonly accompany celebrations, like chocolate, onions, and avocados, can be toxic to your four-legged friend. 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.

border collie waiting for someone to drop food from the table at a picnic

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.


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.


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.


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.


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 preventive measures are very easy to come by. Using a regular heartworm preventive can save your pooch’s 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 repellants. 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 four-legged 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. Please resist the urge to get them glowing for the holiday.

brown tabby cat with a silver tag on their orange collar resting on a wood floor next to a stone wall

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 (minus potty breaks, of course) during the holiday. Not just at night when the fireworks are the loudest. If your cat is allowed outdoors, it would be good to bring them in as well. The indoors will most likely be the safest and most comfortable place for your pets.

Even if they’re inside and chipped, all pets should have secure collars and ID tags. As the saying goes, it is better to be safe than sorry.

Fourth Fireworks and Your Four-legged 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. If you are still thinking, “My dog is scared of fireworks, how can I help?” Check out some of our recommended items that can help alleviate your pet’s anxiety this firecracker season.

Familiar Spaces

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


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.

Take the Fear Out of Fireworks: Keep Comfortable, Get a Workout, Divert Attention, Drown it Out

The information presented in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute or substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.

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