Fourth of July Pet Safety: Fireworks, Barbecues, Mosquitos, Oh My!

Many of us celebrate our nation’s Independence Day by barbecuing, relaxing with loved ones, and watching the bright-colored flashes of fireworks that light up the night sky. The Fourth of July may be a fun-filled holiday for you, but for pets, the holiday can potentially be scary and hazardous.

Dr. Stacy Eckman, a clinical associate professor for the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, explains that our celebrations could put pets at an increased risk for anxiety or injuries.Dog looking out

“Most of the time, injuries to pets during the holiday are related to them getting out of the house or yard because they are frightened or having anxiety about the fireworks,” Eckman said. “The injuries range from minor cuts and lacerations to more serious injuries, such as being hit by a vehicle.”

If your dog is frightened by fireworks, Eckman recommends minimizing the pet’s exposure to the noise by finding a safe, quiet room in your home where your pet can stay relaxed. If the dog will be outside during a fireworks show, keep it locked in a yard or leashed to prevent it from running away or jumping a fence in an attempt to find safety.

In addition, Eckman said a veterinarian-prescribed medication can help a pet remain calm when loud noises are present, especially if the animal is known to have anxiety. There are also several products on the market that are designed to wrap around pets, making them feel safe in a blanket-like material.

“Ultimately, people should seek their veterinarian’s advice on what may work best for their pet,” Eckman said.

Besides fireworks, other potential dangers to pets may arise from barbecues and other holiday meals. Eckman discourages owners from feeding table scraps to their pets, as they can cause upset stomach, vomiting, and diarrhea.

In severe cases, a gastrointestinal disorder can develop and obstructions can occur—especially if the pet eats a bone or corn on the cob. In addition, alcohol can be potentially fatal to pets and should never be left out where they can get into it.

Finally, if you plan to bring your pet to the party, be cautious of the dangers of mosquitos, fleas, and ticks. Preventative medications and effective flea and tick repellants prescribed by your veterinarian can help keep these pests away.

Since heartworms are transmitted to pets through mosquitos, also make sure your pet is taking heartworm preventative before they enjoy the holiday outdoors.

As a pet owner, it is important to consider all of the dangerous situations your pet may experience during the holiday. If you are concerned about the dangers your pet may face and want to fully protect them, it may be best to leave your pet at home.

Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be viewed on the web at vetmed.tamu.edu/news/pet-talk. Suggestions for future topics may be directed to editor@cvm.tamu.edu.