Summertime is all about enjoying celebrations with friends and family, and getting outdoors to soak up the sunshine. However, the biggest celebration of the season—July Fourth—can be chock-full of catastrophic events waiting to happen. With proper planning and prevention, you can keep your furry pal safe from disaster during Independence Day festivities. While your cat is likely to remain mostly safe and secure indoors—although they can suffer from fireworks fear—your pooch may be running in and out, and being exposed to more health hazards. Before you begin your July Fourth party, take steps to prevent the five most common pet emergencies associated with this holiday.

#1: Hot temperatures and high humidity levels can cause heatstroke in pets

As summer heats up, July Fourth can bring scorching temperatures and high humidity levels, and your pet can easily succumb to heatstroke. Excessive humidity alone can lead to health issues for your fur coat-wearing friend, so try to exercise early in the morning before conditions become miserable. If your pet does join you outside, ensure they have plenty of shade, fresh water, and ventilation in their area. Keep a close eye on your pet and monitor them for heatstroke signs, which include:

  • Heavy panting
  • Excessive, thick drool
  • Bright red gums and tongue 
  • Weakness
  • Stumbling
  • Confusion
  • Collapse
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

If your pet is panting more heavily than normal, or their drool becomes thick and ropey, head indoors and cool them off.

#2: Some summer-related gear can be hazardous for your pet

Many items left around during the July Fourth holiday can be toxic for your pet. Lighter fluid and matches used for lighting grills, campfires, and fireworks may be left in paws’ reach. Contact with or ingestion of these items can cause digestive issues, skin irritation, breathing problems, or kidney failure. Pest repellent products also are widely used during the summer, and along with sprays, citronella candles, and tiki torches, can be hazardous to your pet’s health. Avoid spraying your pet with an insect repellent or sunscreen intended for people, and use only pet-safe products. 

#3: Bodies of water can pose multiple threats for your pet

Although a dip in the pool or the lake seems the perfect way to keep your pet cool, not all four-legged animals know how to doggy paddle. Put a life vest on your pet before letting them swim, after first trying out the vest on dry land to ensure a comfortable fit. Provide plenty of fresh water while your pet is playing, so they aren’t tempted to drink chlorinated pool water or lake water that may contain contaminants or pathogens. And, if you head out on a boat, prevent your pet from leaping over the edge. Propellers and strong currents can be deadly if your pet ventures into the wrong area. 

#4: People food should be shared with people only—no pets

That begging gaze when you’re enjoying a juicy hamburger or plate overflowing with potato salad is difficult to turn down, but many popular cookout foods can lead to serious gastrointestinal issues in your pet. Hamburgers, hot dogs, and side dishes filled with high-fat ingredients can cause life-threatening pancreatitis, while steaks, chicken legs, and corn on the cob can create a gastrointestinal obstruction that requires emergency surgical removal. And, the alcohol that flows at most July Fourth parties can quickly lead to alcohol poisoning in a small pet. Make your pet a special treat to distract them from the people food. Stuff a rubber Kong with any combination of canned food, peanut butter, spray cheese, yogurt, berries, and fresh veggies, and freeze the Kong the night before your party. Your pet will have their own long-lasting cooling treat for the big day.

#5: Fireworks can cause a full-on freak-out for your pet

Many pets are terrified by the sights and sounds associated with fireworks, and can harm themselves trying to find safety. Reduce your pet’s noise aversion stress by planning in advance. Create a quiet area where your pet can hunker down and wait out the fireworks display. Furnish your home’s most sound-proof room with a plush bed, long-lasting treats, and your pet’s favorite toys to help distract them and keep them comfortable. Turn on a radio or TV to add white noise and help drown out the explosive booms. Special calming music for cats and dogs is also available to download and play.

Some pets will benefit from a compression wrap that works like swaddling an infant, making them feel safe and secure. In some cases, pets need pharmaceutical calming therapies to prevent such fear that they may harm themselves trying to escape or hide. Discuss these anti-anxiety medications with your family veterinarian prior to July Fourth, because your pet will need a trial run to see how they are affected. 

If, despite your best efforts, your furry pal runs into danger this July Fourth, our Pet Emergency Clinic and Referral Center team is standing by to help. Give us a call.