Bring on the barbecues, parades, and, of course, the fireworks. Independence Day is filled with fun, sun, and celebrations for people, but it is filled with hazards for our four-legged family members. Read on for some important Fourth of July facts and how you can minimize the risks to your pet.

Fact #1: More pets are lost on the Fourth of July than any other day of the year

July 5 is the busiest day of the year for shelters, which may be why the month of June was dubbed National Pet Microchip Awareness Month. When animals get spooked, their fight-or-flight response often takes over and they flee and get lost. Consider these recommendations when making your holiday plans:

  • Keep your pet indoors on the Fourth of July. Provide a long-lasting treat that will distract him from the noise and keep him comfortable while left alone.
  • If you absolutely must bring your pet out with you, ensure he has an ID tag, his collar fits properly, and he is attached to a leash at all times.
  • Get your pet microchipped. This can be scheduled as a quick outpatient appointment with your Countryside veterinarian.  
  • Take a photo of your pet, which will help your community identify him should he be lost and found.

Fact #2: Pets can be desensitized to the loud sounds of fireworks

Some pets have severe noise aversions, particularly to fireworks. You can help minimize this reactivity with the following preparations:

  • If you know fireworks will be set off close to home, consider taking your pet to another safe place, such as a family member or friend’s home.
  • Try playing soft, relaxing music for your pet when loud noises are expected.
  • Consider over-the-counter oral supplements and appeasing pheromones that may alleviate minor noise aversions. Always speak with us before choosing supplements for your pet.
  • Medications may be necessary to eliminate a pet’s severe anxiety associated with fireworks and other loud noises. If you know your pet has severe noise aversion, call us before the fireworks show so we can help provide relief.

Fact #3: Potential toxins are within a nose’s reach

Alcohol, glow sticks, bug spray, and citronella products are commonly found at Fourth of July gatherings, and they can potentially harm our pets.

  • Alcohol, which can taste sweet and be alluring to pets, is toxic to animals. Alcohol toxicity can manifest with signs of depression, weakness, or even coma.
  • Glow sticks also may tantalize and grab your pet’s attention. While the iridescent substance inside these products is not typically highly toxic, ingestion can cause gastrointestinal upset and potential obstruction if large pieces are swallowed.
  • Bug spray or citronella products should never be applied to your pet. Ingestion can cause vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, excessive thirst, and neurologic signs. Inhalation of citronella oils can potentially cause aspiration pneumonia or other respiratory problems.

Ensure these potential hazards are kept out of your pet’s reach and immediately call our hospital at 256-859-2221 if you suspect your pet has been exposed to any toxin.

Fact #4: Party foods can make pets ill

Common picnic and barbecue dishes, such as hot dogs, corn on the cob, grapes, and high-fat treats, are delicious, but they can pose a serious threat to animals.

  • Rich, high-fat foods, such as ribs and hot dogs, can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and other severe complications, including pancreatitis, in dogs and cats.
  • Corn cobs can be swallowed and lodge in the intestines, resulting in a serious blockage that often will require surgery and hospitalization.
  • Grapes, onions, garlic, and chocolate are all toxic for pets, with the potential to cause problems such as vomiting, hyperactivity, and kidney and liver disease.

Resist the urge to give these treats to your pets. Keep low-calorie, pet-friendly treats on hand for guests to give your dog or cat during get-togethers.

Fact #5: Summer safety rules still apply

Independence Day is often hot and humid in Alabama, so review the safety implications that come with warm weather, including our Warm Weather Warnings blog post.

The Fourth of July is an exciting day, and we encourage you and your pets to responsibly enjoy this holiday. If you have further questions about Fourth of July safety, or would like to set up an appointment for microchipping or to discuss medications, please contact us.