As July Fourth draws near, you’re likely planning your cookout menu, plotting the best spot to sit for the fireworks show, and envisioning lounging in the pool all afternoon. While these activities are the highlight of Independence Day celebrations, they can pose threats to your four-legged friend. Never fear—our Gentle Touch Animal Hospital team’s tips will help keep your pet out of trouble so they can safely enjoy the holiday as well.

#1: Stock up on pet-safe snacks for your cookout

Nothing draws a crowd more than the mouthwatering aromas coming from the grill at your July Fourth cookout. Your pet also will want to take part in your barbecue, and they may try to snag a chicken leg or T-bone from your grill when your back is turned. Although these savory meats may seem like the perfect treat for your drooling pal, the bones and high fat content are dangerous for them. Bones can splinter or lodge in their gastrointestinal tract, causing an obstruction, while high-fat hot dogs and steak fat can lead to pancreatitis. Roasted corn on the cob also can cause a blockage. 

Stick to pet-friendly snacks instead of giving your four-legged friend these hazardous treats during your cookout. You can offer small chunks of grilled skinless, boneless, unseasoned chicken breast, or a few bites of fresh fruit, minus the grapes. Roasted veggies, like squash, zucchini, and sweet potatoes, are also great healthy treats for pets, provided they are seasoning- and oil-free.

#2: Install a safety railing around your swimming pool

If your furry pal is eyeing your pool as a great way to cool off on a sizzling Independence Day, you may need to block their access or outfit them with a safety vest. Not all pets can swim, plus drinking large amounts of chlorinated water can be toxic. Give your pet a safe swimming alternative by setting up a sprinkler or a small wading pool. Entice them to jump in their pool by tossing in floating toys or a few ice cubes they can chase.

#3: Protect your pet from biting insects with safe products

Before you head outdoors, you may spray yourself with a DEET-laden insect repellent to ensure no biting insect comes near you, but avoid doing the same to your pet. DEET and other similar chemicals can be toxic to pets, as can a wide variety of insect repellents labeled for human use. Keep your pet safe from fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, and intestinal parasites by using a veterinarian-approved preventive. These medications are easy to administer, whether your pooch is a chowhound who scarfs down any chewable tablet, or your cat allows you to squirt a topical solution on the back of their neck. Ask our Gentle Touch Animal Hospital team for recommendations on the best type of prevention for your pet.

#4: Keep your pet cool and comfortable to ward off heatstroke

High temperatures and humidity are notorious for causing heatstroke in pets, but moderate temperatures also pose a risk. Pets who are most likely to overheat have one or more of the following characteristics:

  • Flat face
  • Overweight or obese
  • Black fur
  • Thick fur
  • Endocrine disorders
  • Heart conditions
  • Respiratory diseases

Young and old pets are also more likely to develop heatstroke because they are less capable of regulating their body temperature. If your pet is highly active, keep a close eye on them as they play outdoors, since they may not know when to take a break and cool off. 

Warning signs of heatstroke include:

  • Excessive panting
  • Drooling
  • Bright red gums
  • Lethargy
  • Disorientation
  • Difficulty walking
  • Rapid breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Seizures
  • Collapse

To prevent heatstroke in your pet, keep a few guidelines in mind. Exercise early in the morning when the temperature is coolest, always offer your pet plenty of water and shade when outdoors, and stick to indoor activities if the weather is too extreme to be comfortable.

#5: Create a quiet sanctuary for your pet to ride out the fireworks show

The bright lights and booming explosions of a fireworks show can unsettle even the most laidback of pets, and pets who have noise aversion can be sent into a panic attack when the show starts. Leave your pet at home—and indoors—for your local fireworks display, and keep them cozy and safe in a quiet sanctuary. Choose the quietest room in your home to create your pet’s haven. Place a snug bed, food puzzle, and a variety of toys in there to keep them occupied, and play white noise or leave a TV on to help drown out the fireworks. Some pets require additional calming aids, and, as a Fear Free practice, we can prescribe the best options to help ease your pet’s fireworks fear.

Help your pet enjoy the July Fourth festivities safely with our tips. However, if an accident occurs, contact our Gentle Touch Animal Hospital team for help.