While July Fourth is meant for food, fireworks, and fun, the holiday can pose several serious threats to your pet’s mental and physical health. Many of the activities we enjoy—and want to include our pets in—can result in toxicity, organ failure, or trauma. Fortunately, you can protect your four-legged friend from the many dangers in as many ways. Here are three of the most common issues pets face on Independence Day, with tips on keeping your furry pal safe.
Pets and hot weather
Although Seattle certainly isn’t known for scorching hot summer conditions, our area can still reach uncomfortable temperatures, especially with humidity. Pets who are overweight, suffer from heart or breathing problems, or who have flattened faces are most susceptible to overheating, although any pet can succumb to heatstroke.
Protect your pet from heatstroke with the following prevention tactics:
- Provide the essentials — Water, shade, and ventilation are the key to avoiding heatstroke in your pet, as a lack of these essentials can quickly lead to overheating. When your pet is outdoors, always provide adequate shade and ventilation, and plenty of fresh, cool water. Place a fan in front of your pet if they are on a screened-in porch, keep them out of the stuffy garage, and give them fresh water rather than allowing them to drink out of the pool or a pond.
- Watch the weather — In general, early mornings are the coolest and least humid part of the day and the best times to exercise your pet. However, keep your eye on the weather to choose the best time for you and your four-legged friend to be outside.
- Monitor your pet — When outside, watch your pet closely for initial heatstroke signs, such as heavy panting, excessive drooling, lethargy, or disorientation, and quickly start cooling them.
Pets and party food
To your pet, the food is the star of the July Fourth festivities. However, many popular dishes served at barbecues are dangerous for pets, including:
- Grilled foods — Meat with bones, skin, fat, or heavy seasonings seriously threaten your pet. Ribs, chicken legs, steaks, or hot dogs can cause pancreatitis, gastrointestinal (GI) upset, or an intestinal obstruction. Kebabs made with wooden or metal skewers can pierce your pet’s mouth or GI tract if swallowed, while corn cobs can lodge in the intestinal tract.
- Side salads — Cookout side dishes often contain mayo, vinegar, onions, garlic, and various other ingredients high in fat or that can cause GI problems. And, if your pet gets into the potato salad or deviled eggs after they have been sitting out in the hot sun all day, they may be eating spoiled foods.
- Desserts — The dessert table is laden with dishes that can be toxic to your furry pal. Sweet treats that contain chocolate or xylitol, a sugar substitute, can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, hypoglycemia, or liver failure.
Protect your pet from dangerous July Fourth foods by placing dishes high out of reach, ensuring all scraps are thrown in a secure trash can, and asking guests not to share their food with your pet.
Pets and fireworks
If fireworks have been exploding for the week leading up to the Fourth, your pet is likely already on edge when Independence Day celebrations roll around. During the main event, your pet can fly into a full-blown panic attack, especially if they have a significant noise aversion (i.e., phobia).
Pets who are sensitive to loud sounds, particularly fireworks, can benefit from:
- A quiet room — A room that is as soundproofed as possible, such as an inner bedroom or walk-in closet, can serve as the ideal space for a quiet haven. Equip this sanctuary with a comfortable bed, white noise or classical music, and a tasty distraction, like a food puzzle or long-lasting chew.
- Calming products — Calming supplements, compression wraps, and soothing species-specific pheromones can help your pet relax and ease their fear.
- Anti-anxiety medication — Without intervention, noise aversion will continue to worsen and cause your pet more distress. At the first sign of your pet’s noise aversion (e.g., panting, pacing, hiding, clinging), ask your veterinarian for help. They most likely will suggest anti-anxiety medication that can be used as needed.
- Microchipping — While a microchip won’t keep your pet calm during a fireworks display, the chip can help ensure a happy reunion should your panicked pet dart out the door or escape the backyard. This permanent identification should complement their collar and identification tags, which can fall off or become illegible.
Although July Fourth comes with plenty of fun activities, your furry pal may think differently, especially when the fireworks begin bursting overhead. Help your pet to stay calm and enjoy the holiday festivities by scheduling an appointment with our Mercer Street Animal Hospital team to discuss medication to alleviate their fireworks fear.