Star-Spangled Pet Safety

The best day of summer is most definitely the 4th of July. You can share a barbecued hot dog or hamburger with friends and family, go for a swim, and even play with colorful sparklers. Of course, a party would not be complete without your furry partner. One could imagine that dogs love the 4th of July as much as people because of all the delicious food they sneak from unsuspecting hands and the endless amounts playtime they get with their favorite people. While your dog may enjoy some aspects of this national cookout, this holiday does not always result in fun and games for them. Unfortunately, more dogs run away on the 4th of July than any other holiday. This does not even include the common injuries dogs face during a cookout. Whether or not you plan to hold a celebration, it is critical to take necessary precautions on 4th of July weekend so another precious dog is not taken from their family or unintentionally hurt by the summer fun.

Hot Dog!

The dry summertime heat is often times unbearable, no matter how many fans are used to combat it. If the weather is uncomfortable for people around this time of year, your dog is most likely in a worse position. Dogs naturally have a higher body temperature than humans, but have less abilities to cool themselves down. This is due to the fact that unlike humans with numerous pores, dogs only have pores on their paw pads and noses. Therefore, more heat is retained inside and not much is allowed to escape. The situation becomes more dire with older, obese, or short-muzzled dogs, who are much more susceptible to heat exposure.

To help your pal out, make sure to take them out on early walks before the sidewalk gets too hot. Many people may not realize this, but it is not recommended to walk dogs on a summer evening. This is due to the fact that the sidewalk can retain the sun’s rays well after the sun has gone down and can still burn your pup’s feet. Another helpful tip is to cool your dog’s pads down with water, and put sunscreen on any prone areas. As always, never leave an animal alone in a hot car. The heat in a car can skyrocket to dangerous temperatures in a matter of minutes.

Snack Safely

Independence Day is well-known for its irresistible foods that come right off the barbecue. Naturally, pets are drawn to the yummy smells. As much as it is hard to say no to those adorable puppy eyes, you really shouldn’t share table scraps with your pet. Your dog may think that the people food smells delicious, but lots of festive foods are dangerous to them. For instance, corn on the cob and fatty scraps can cause severe intestinal damage. Common toppings such as onions and garlic can cause anemia in dogs. In addition, alcohol is extremely poisonous to pets even in small increments and should be kept out of reach at all times.

As an alternative, consider feeding your friend cooked lean poultry, or a number of fruits such as strawberries, raspberries, or apples. Watermelon is also a tasty and helpful option to keep a dog cool and hydrated, as long as there are no seeds in it.

Nighttime Fun

A barbecue may be fun, but all of the 4th of July festivities lead up to one exciting moment: the fireworks show. It’s always fun to see the bright colorful light show in the sky, but our pets experience something much different at night. Pets are very sensitive to the loud fireworks since they have better hearing than most humans. Since they have no clue as to what is going on, the loud noises can make dogs very anxious and want to run as far away as they can. This is why there are so many lost dog cases during the 4th of July.

To avoid complications, make sure to give your pooch a safe space away from the action complete with their bed, favorite toys, or snacks. To ensure that they are not too restless, try to exercise your pooch early before the show. If your dog is still too stressed, consider giving them calming medicine to ease their nerves. It should go without saying that any form of firework should never be ignited near pets, as lighter fluid or matches could become very dangerous in a matter of seconds. While glowsticks are not exactly fireworks, the fluid found in the tubes can be very toxic and should be kept away from gnawing mouths.

Even if you keep your pet mostly away from the action, there still is a chance they could become lost in the commotion. As an extra safety precaution, make sure you have a recent photograph of your pet and that they have up-to-date identification such as a microchip or collar on them so they are able to get back in your arms. In addition, make sure your guests know to keep an eye on your pet or at least keep gates and doors closed most of the time.

Although there are many dangers involved with summer celebrations for dogs, in the end, our pets just want to join in all of the fun we’re having. So, let’s not spoil their excitement and let them have a fun-filled Independence Day weekend. As long as you keep your dog cool, full of good food, and relatively calm, they’ll have the best 4th of July ever.

Posted in

Dr. Chris Vanderhoof, DVM, MPH

Chris is a seasoned veterinarian with over 15 years of animal health experience in small animal, large/farm animal, equine, and public health fields.

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