Pet Talk: Fourth of July Safety for Your Pets

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Many of us celebrate our nation’s Independence Day barbecuing and relaxing with loved ones. When the sun goes down, it is a tradition to gather together to admire and enjoy the bright-colored flashes of fireworks that light up our night sky. You might not think twice about taking the necessary precautions to have a safe and fun-filled holiday with your family and friends, but have you ever thought about the proper safety measures to ensure your pet has a safe holiday, too?

The Fourth of July might be a day of celebration for people, but for pets it is a day of potentially hazardous situations. Dr. James Barr, clinical assistant professor for the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, explained that pets are at an increased risk for several dangerous scenarios during our holiday celebration.

“Most of the injuries or sicknesses that happen around the Fourth of July in dogs have to do with an increased amount of outdoor activity,” Barr said. “There are more dogfights, car accidents involving dogs and heat related illnesses than any other time of the year.”

Barr also discourages owners from feeding table scraps to their pets. “Because dogs and cats have exposure to a lot more food from barbecues and parties, they tend to get upset stomachs from eating things they shouldn’t,” he said. Sometimes it is seen as humorous for owners to share an alcoholic beverage with their pet, but Barr includes alcohol on his list of dangers for pets on Independence Day. “Pets have much smaller bodies than we do and it can be quite dangerous to have them drink alcohol. It can even be fatal in severe circumstances,” he said.

If you plan on bringing Fido to an outdoor party, be cautious of the dangers of mosquitoes, fleas and ticks. Spraying your pet with insect repellant may seem like a reasonable solution to the bug problem, but some sprays are not safe for animals. Instead, Barr recommends using an effective flea and tick repellant prescribed by your veterinarian. Since heartworms are transmitted to pets through mosquitoes, a common summer nuisance, Barr also reminds owners to make sure their pet is taking heartworm preventative before they enjoy the holiday outdoors.

One of the most exciting traditions of the Fourth of July holiday is fireworks. Although we might fall into a trance of admiration at the loud popping noises and flashing of colors in the sky, our pets might not enjoy the show so much. If your dog typically becomes frightened during thunderstorms, chances are they will react the same way to fireworks. “If your dog is frightened by the fireworks, you need to minimize the exposure that they have to the loud noise of the fireworks,” Barr said. This can be done by finding a safe and quiet room in your home where your dog can stay relaxed. If Fido is in attendance at your outdoor firework show, keep him or her on a leash to prevent them from running away or jumping a fence in an attempt to find safety. Remember, it is always important to properly identify your pet just in case they become lost.

Although Independence Day is a fun-filled holiday for people, it might not be the same case for our pets. As a pet owner, it is important to consider all dangerous situations your pet may experience during the holiday. If you are concerned about the dangers your pet may face and want to fully protect them, the simple solution is for Fido to sit this party out in the safety of your home.

Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University.

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