July Fourth is a festive, fun holiday to which you likely look forward. However, for your pet, the loud fireworks explosions, large groups of unfamiliar faces, and an abundance of potentially toxic food can lead to trouble. Our Westerville Veterinary Clinic team wants to help you ensure your four-legged pal’s comfort and safety this July Fourth by explaining how you can help prevent potential pet emergencies. 

Potential pet emergency #1: Fireworks-related injuries

Fireworks displays are one of the biggest threats to pets during the July Fourth holiday. These pyrotechnics can cause the following pet emergencies:

  • Burns and injuries — Lighting fireworks in your pet’s presence is extremely dangerous. A curious pet may approach a firecracker before it has fully extinguished, and they can suffer burns or other injuries. In addition, fireworks contain toxic substances, and your pet can be harmed if they ingest them. Ingesting fireworks debris or water contaminated with firework residue can result in gastrointestinal (GI) issues, blockages, poisoning, and potential organ damage.
  • Escape attempts — Fireworks’ noise and commotion terrify many pets. If your furry pal becomes panicked, they may smash through windows, chew and claw through doors, and bolt into traffic, suffering injuries such as cuts, fractures, or other trauma.

Prevention tips: Keep pets indoors when setting off fireworks. If your pet suffers from noise aversion, help reduce their fear by following these tips:

  • Create a safe space — Providing your pet with a safe, soundproofed area in your home goes a long way toward soothing their fear. Furnish the room with a comfortable bed, enticing treats, and entertaining toys and food puzzles. Play white noise or classical music to help your pet relax.
  • Use calming products — Soothing pheromones, compression wraps, and calming supplements can be exceptionally helpful in easing your pet’s fear, especially when paired with other calming techniques.
  • Ask about medication — Many pets require extra help when trying to cope with their noise-aversion fears. Our Westerville Veterinary Clinic team can prescribe anti-anxiety medication for your four-legged friend.

Potential pet emergency #2: Lost pets 

More pets go missing during July Fourth celebrations than at any other time of the year. Backyard barbecues are common on July Fourth, but the crowds of people, along with fireworks’ booms, can cause your pet to panic and try to flee. If your four-legged friend bolts out the door in terror during a fireworks show, increase the opportunity of being reunited by double-checking their microchip registration and ID tags to ensure your contact information, such as your phone number and address, are current. In addition, check your pet’s tags for legibility.

Potential pet emergency #3: Heatstroke 

Prolonged high temperature exposure can be dangerous for pets. Backyard barbecues during July’s heatwave put people and pets at risk for heat exhaustion or heatstroke. Common heatstroke signs include:

  • Heavy panting
  • Drooling
  • Red gums
  • Rapid breathing and fast heart rate
  • Dull or distant look
  • Lethargy and weakness
  • Seizures
  • Collapse

Any pet can easily overheat when the temperature and humidity levels are high. However, some pets’ overheating risk is higher than others. Certain canine breeds and dogs with health conditions can overheat easily, including:

  • Brachycephalic pets —  Flat-faced (i.e., brachycephalic) pet breeds breathe inefficiently, and, therefore, cool down inefficiently, which increases their susceptibility to heat-related conditions such as heatstroke. 
  • Overweight pets — Overweight or obese pets have an increased heatstroke risk because extra fat layers act as insulation, impeding their ability to cool down. 
  • Senior pets — Senior pets may not dissipate excess body heat as efficiently as young pets, and they are more likely to develop heatstroke, because their cardiovascular and respiratory functions have decreased. 

Prevention tips: Ensure your pet stays calm and cool during your July Fourth festivities. Avoid a heat-related emergency by taking these precautions:

  • Provide your pet with unlimited water and shade 
  • Restrict your pet’s activity 
  • Keep your pet indoors during the hottest part of the day
  • Watch your pet for overheating signs

Potential pet emergency #4:Toxic food ingestion 

If your pet eats any of your July Fourth smorgasbord of rich, salty, and sweet foods, they will likely end up feeling miserable, or at the emergency veterinary hospital. Ensure your pet does not eat these popular July Fourth foods:

  • Meat — Greasy, fatty, or seasoned meat can trigger intense gastrointestinal (GI) issues and pancreatitis. Leftover bones can result in choking, lacerations, or dangerous GI blockages. 
  • Alcohol — Alcoholic drinks can intoxicate your pet, and severely lower their blood sugar level, body temperature, and respiratory rate.
  • Onions, garlic, chives, and leek  — These tasty burger and salad toppers can destroy your pet’s red blood cells, causing anemia. 
  • Corn on the cob — Corn on the cob seems like a fun chew toy for your pet, but they can accidentally ingest the cob itself, and your furry pal may require emergency surgery to remove the obstruction.

Prevention tips: Restrict your pet’s access to food areas and advise guests not to feed pets from their plates. Keep harmful foods out of your pet’s reach, and immediately contact our veterinary team, or the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Poison Control Center, if your pet accidentally ingests something toxic.

We hope you and your pet enjoy a fun, safe, and emergency-free July Fourth. However, should your pet get into holiday mischief, or you would like to schedule their precelebration wellness exam or easy microchip insertion procedure, contact our Westerville Veterinary Clinic team.