The July Fourth holiday should be a time filled with great food, wonderful friendship, and noisy celebrations of our nation’s independence. However, these festivities can pose a health risk and possibly an emergency visit for your furry friend, and may not be enjoyable. When gearing up the grill and purchasing armfuls of fireworks, keep your pet in mind. Follow these five tips to help ensure their holiday celebration goes smoothly and safely.

#1: Do not invite your pet to your July Fourth barbecue

Despite your July Fourth barbecue’s popularity, your pet should not be invited to this cookout. In all the celebratory commotion, your pooch can too easily turn their begging gaze on unsuspecting guests and score a hot dog or some potato salad. They may also help themself to an unattended grill or picnic table, gorging on the typical cookout fare that is high in fat. If your furry pal ingests fatty meats or mayonnaise-filled side dishes, they could develop life-threatening pancreatitis. Set up your pet for success by stationing them safely indoors with their own pet-safe treat, like a frozen stuffed Kong, or a dental chew. 

#2: Don’t assume your pet can doggy paddle

Are you thinking of a pool party for your July Fourth festivities? Your four-legged friend may also want to join in and jump in the water, but may not know how to swim, or get out of the pool. If your pet does not know doggy paddle basics, keep them out of the water, or outfit them with a life vest. The same holds true for a boating outing with your pet. While you may think they’d enjoy the fresh breeze off the water, boating accidents can happen all too easily with a pet who cannot swim. It’s best to leave your pet at home when heading to the lake, or block them from the pool, until they’ve had swimming lessons.

#3: Do stay cool during the dog days of summer

As the summer heats up, July Fourth can become too hot for your fur coat-wearing friend. Although your pet may beg to join the outdoor festivities, keep a close eye on the weather conditions. High temperature and humidity levels can make your pet miserable, and may cause heat exhaustion and life-threatening heatstroke. Exercise your pet early in the morning to take advantage of the coolest part of the day, and let them cool off in an air-conditioned room during the afternoon and evening. Ensure plenty of fresh water, adequate ventilation, and proper shade is always available when your pet is outdoors. And, when outside, monitor your pet for impending heatstroke signs that include:

  • Excessive panting and drooling
  • Lethargy
  • Agitation
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Increased heart rate
  • Lack of coordination
  • Brick-red gums and tongue
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Collapse
  • Seizures

At the first hint of heavy panting or drooling, bring your pet indoors, and begin cooling measures. 

#4: Don’t force your pet to be a party animal

Not all pets are party animals, and some prefer the quiet and solitude of an empty room. Rather than dragging your pet to a July Fourth parade or fireworks display, leave them in their comfortable haven at home. If you’re having a house party, create an off-limits room reserved solely for your pet. Provide your pet with entertainment, such as a food puzzle, long-lasting treat, or new toy, to help take their mind off the celebration outside the door.

#5: Prevent your pet from freaking out at the fireworks

Noise aversion is a serious problem for many pets, and July Fourth can be a terrifying holiday for your furry pal. In fact, more pets run away and become lost during the July Fourth holiday than any other time of year. If your pet turns into a quivering, anxious mess the moment the first fireworks explode, prepare ahead to protect them from the loud explosions. Preload a room with calming, species-specific pheromones, like Feliway or Adaptil. Furnish the room with a cozy bed that is placed inside a kennel if your pet prefers to hide in small, dark spaces. Play white noise, the radio, or a television to help drown out the fireworks. Further distract your pet from the noise with an extra-special long-lasting treat. Anti-anxiety medication can help pets who have moderate-to-severe noise aversion.

July Fourth can hold hidden hazards for your pet if you’re unprepared, so plan in advance for potential dangers, like heatstroke and fireworks fear. If you know your furry pal is not a fan of bombs bursting in air and the rocket’s red glare, contact our Somerset Animal Hospital team for an appointment to discuss anxiety-management techniques.