July Fourth is always a great celebration of our country, but when preparing for your patriotic party, be aware that the holiday can be dangerous for your pet. Our Animal Care & Emergency Services team doesn’t want your Independence Day to be interrupted by a veterinary emergency, so we explain the hazards your pet may encounter.

#1 July Fourth pet danger: Overheating

July Fourth is typically hot and humid, which can be dangerous conditions for pets. Pets don’t sweat like people. Instead, they pant as their primary cooling method, but panting is not always sufficient when the weather is hot and steamy. Heatstroke occurs when a pet’s temperature rises above the normal range (i.e., 101 to 102.5 degrees). Some pets, including brachycephalic breeds, senior pets, and those who are overweight or affected by a medical condition, are at increased risk and need more careful monitoring. Tips to help protect your four-legged friend from overheating include:

  • Providing water — Ensure your pet has access to clean, fresh water. If you take your pet to the July Fourth celebrations, take bottled water and a portable water bowl so they can drink.
  • Taking breaks — When out and about, take frequent breaks in the shade to let your pet cool down.
  • Monitoring your pet — Monitor your pet for heatstroke signs, which include excessive panting, thick, ropey drool, lethargy, diarrhea, and collapse.
  • Leaving your pet at home — Before taking your pet out in the heat, consider if they would be more comfortable staying in your air-conditioned home, especially if you are not sure they would be welcome at a party in another home. Never leave your pet in an unattended vehicle, because the interior temperature can quickly reach dangerous levels.
  • Knowing heatstroke first aid — If your pet overheats, reacting appropriately can save their life. Steps include:
    • Move your pet to a cool, well-ventilated area.
    • Offer your pet water if they are conscious.
    • Pour lukewarm water over your pet or cool them with soaked towels.
    • Take your pet’s temperature so you can monitor their progress.
    • Seek veterinary attention as soon as possible.

#2 July Fourth pet danger: Party food

You can’t celebrate July Fourth without decadent party food, but many dishes are a serious threat to your pet. Fatty foods can trigger pancreatitis, and several common ingredients, such as onions, grapes, xylitol, and chocolate, are toxic to pets. Tips to protect your pet from the July Fourth party food include:

  • Securing garbage — Ensure all trash is secured in sealed containers that your pet can’t access.
  • Informing your guests — Let your guests know that you do not allow your pet to eat table scraps.
  • Monitoring discards — Watch for discarded cups and plates and throw them away to prevent your pet from stealing an off-limits morsel.
  • Keeping your pet away from the grill — Your pet may not be able to withstand the temptation to grab a meaty treat from the grill or an unattended platter. Keep your pet well away from the grill.
  • Providing pet-friendly treats — Your pet won’t feel left out when everyone is noshing on party food if you offer them pet-friendly treats.

#3 July Fourth pet danger: Fireworks

Chemicals in fireworks and sparklers can be extremely harmful if ingested by your pet. In addition, many pets are fearful and anxious when they hear fireworks, which can lead to emotional and physical trauma. Tips to protect your pet from fireworks include:

  • Keeping your pet on a leash — Keep your pet leashed, so you know if they encounter firework debris. 
  • Discarding fireworks — Discard any fireworks debris in or around your home to prevent your pet from being exposed.
  • Exercising your pet — Take your pet for an extra long walk or play session during the day so they are tired—and hopefully calmer—when the fireworks start.
  • Creating a quiet zone — If your pet has a noise aversion to fireworks, keep them away from windows in an interior room, and play music or white noise to mask the sounds.
  • Using behavior modification — In some cases, behavior modification techniques can help desensitize pets to fireworks noise. This process typically requires weeks or months to be effective, so you should start well in advance of July Fourth.
  • Administering calming supplements — Pheromones and other calming supplements may help your noise-averse pet.
  • Medicating your pet — For severely noise-averse pets, medications, such as sedatives or anti-anxiety drugs, are necessary to help manage the condition.

#4 July Fourth pet danger: Getting lost

July 5 is one of the busiest days of the year for animal control officers and shelter workers, because many scared pets run away during the July Fourth celebration. Tips to protect your pet from getting lost include:

  • Keeping your pet inside — Keep your scared pet inside to help prevent them from bolting.
  • Securing your doors — Ensure your doors and windows are locked and secured so your pet can’t find an escape route.
  • Posting notes — If you host a party, post notes on your doors reminding your guests that your pet is not allowed outside.
  • Microchipping your pet — Microchipping your pet greatly improves their chances of being returned if they go missing. Keep your contact information updated in the registry, so you can be notified if your pet is found.
  • Tagging your pet — Your pet should also wear a collar and identification tags with your current contact information.

If despite your efforts, your pet experiences a July Fourth emergency, contact our Animal Care & Emergency Services team right away. We will provide the care they need and get you back to your patriotic celebration.