When we think of the holiday of the summer, our mind automatically springs to the Fourth of July! A day filled with family, friends, good food, fireworks, and maybe even a dip in the pool. There’s a lot for people to love! But for pets, the Fourth of July can actually be quite dangerous. That doesn’t mean your furry friend can’t join in on the fun, just be aware of the potential hazards of the celebration.
Fireworks are a sight for sore eyes, making them a Fourth of July staple. Watching them is so mesmerizing that it can equally be as relaxing as it is exciting. For most dogs, it’s the complete opposite. Pets have a heightened sense of hearing, making them much more sensitive to loud, sudden sounds. So imagine how they feel when fireworks sporadically go off for fifteen to thirty minutes at a time! It can be traumatic, causing them stress and anxiety.
You have options for how you can handle this. The first way is to use stress relief, calming, and anti-anxiety products. Topicals, chews, sprays, balms, oils, and many other supplements are formulated to help ease your pet’s anxiety and maintain a calm, peaceful demeanor in them. There’s even the ThunderShirt, clothing that applies constant, gentle pressure to your cat or dog to effectively calm them. You can try to use products similar to these, or you can opt to remove your pet from the situation all together. Keep them indoors, and try your best to soundproof the environment. Close the doors, the windows, the blinds, etc to block out as much sound as possible. Better yet, place them in an area with no windows at all - once that is far from exits to the house. Be sure they have a comfortable, safe place to stay. Their own personal beds and kennels are best.
Your curious pet may beg for table scraps at the family barbecue. Or they may wait at your feet, on the lookout for any fallen, dropped, or spilled food and drinks. You may want your pet to join in on the feast, but it’s best they don’t. Several human foods are toxic, sometimes even fatal, to cats and dogs. This includes alcohol, chocolates, grapes, raisins, onions, garlic, cooked bones, avocado, mushrooms, and many types of nuts. Don’t risk it! Not only may these ingredients and dishes be hazardous to your pet, but dogs and cats have very sensitive digestive systems. Eating new foods and snacks without first easing into them can shock their bodies, leading to a line of symptoms of gastrointestinal upset. Don’t let your pet experience the discomfort of vomiting, diarrhea, gas, or tummy aches.
The Fourth of July falls smack in the middle of summer when the heat is at its worst. Similar to how people overheat, so can dogs and cats. It’s especially possible with their heavy fur. This is why it can be very helpful to groom your pet during the dog days of summer. Getting rid of that excess fur can greatly reduce the chances of them overheating. Overheating can cause heat stroke and exhaustion in your companion, so it’s important to keep the essentials prepared to beat the heat. Water is a must! Ensure that your pet is getting enough water throughout the day. Paw protection is the next essential. Rule of thumb is that if it’s too hot for your hand to rest on the ground for more than a few seconds, it’s certainly too hot for paws. Put some boots on your pet, or lay out some material that they can retreat to instead of the hot pavement. Last but not least, don’t forget about skin care. There’s sunscreen made for both cats and dogs. Be generous in using it to protect your fur babies from sunburn. But never use human sunscreen on your pet - they’re not the same!
Going for a swim is a common way of celebrating the holiday. Many dogs are excellent swimmers and thoroughly enjoy it. If that’s the case, don’t stop your pet from taking a dip in the pool! However, you should be confident in their swimming abilities, and even if you trust them to out-swim you, always supervise your pooch. Watch to make sure they don’t get tired or cramp up. Watch to make sure they don’t unintentionally slip in the pool when they don’t mean to. And if other people are going to be in the water with them, watch to make sure they are safely interacting. Whether it’s your pet getting aggressive in the water, or a child playfully (but dangerously) splashing water at your canine, it needs to be put to a stop.
The party favors and decorations associated with the Fourth of July are endless: glow sticks, glow necklaces, plastic party bead necklaces, poppers, sparklers, etc. These are all extremely fun, of course, but typically waved around, dropped, left behind, and forgotten by its users. They’re so frequently used during this holiday that they become very accessible to dogs and cats. With their flashy colors and fun sounds, your pet will likely be drawn to such party favors. Glow sticks and glow necklaces contain substances that can be toxic and unpleasant if your pet ingests it. The same goes for party bead necklaces, which if ingested, can cause choking or severe obstruction in your pet’s body. Poppers are dangerous if used near your pet, and can even scare them with their loud, sudden noises. If your Fourth of July consists of any of these party items, keep the fun going … just keep your pet out and away from it.
Bug spray is a danger for two reasons. Firstly, human bug spray should never be ingested by animals. Similar to how human sunscreen could affect pets, bug spray can be very toxic. For that reason, don’t let your pet consume any of it, such as by licking people that are drenched in it. The second way that bug spray can be dangerous is if you use it on your companion. It’s very understandable that you’d like to keep those pesky insects away from your furry friend, but human bug spray is simply not meant for your dog or cat. There are pet-safe bug sprays available on the market! Invest in those, instead. Pick up some tick and flea preventatives, as well, since these parasites thrive in warm weather.
The Fourth of July, with all its barbecue, burgers, fireworks, sparklers, and dips in the pool, is a holiday best spent with friends and family. Your pet included. So don’t exclude your companion from the celebration! Just keep your eye out for the dangers surrounding this fun and festive day.