Four Ways Fourth of July Fireworks Can Harm Our Pets

July 1, 2021

a brindle dog with an american flag bowtie

The Fourth of July is just a few days away! While some of us may want to kick back and enjoy a fireworks show at the end of the night, it’s important to remember that the loud noises can be frightening and chemicals from fireworks are not safe for our furry friends. In order to keep your pets safe, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) has compiled this list of firework-related symptoms to look out for: 

  1. Fear and anxiety—To us, the lights, colors and sounds of a brilliant fireworks display are awe-inspiring. But for many pets, it can be a sensory overload. Some dogs and cats will have a fight-or-flight response to fireworks. This is a very real adrenaline rush, causing their blood pressure and heart rate to rise. Some pets can panic and cause injury to themselves while trying to escape, some may run away, and some may react with aggression. It’s best to leave any animals out of the fireworks celebration. They would much prefer to cuddle up with a favorite puzzle toy in a small, windowless room while listening to the soft sounds of white noise on the radio.
  2. Gastrointestinal distress—Believe it or not, some dogs may eat fireworks. The most common problems that develop after ingestion of fireworks are vomiting and diarrhea. Some fireworks contain chemicals that can even be corrosive to the lining of the digestive tract. This is a painful condition that can result in bloody vomiting and diarrhea, serious dehydration and secondary infections. 
  3. Red blood cell dysfunction—When ingested, fireworks that contain chlorate salts can oxidize red blood cells which can quickly become a life-threatening condition. Animals with this condition will be lethargic with brown, gray or blue colored gums. They are often breathing rapidly with a fast heart rate. These symptoms can develop up to 10 hours after the ingestion of the fireworks.
  4. Muscle & nerve dysfunction—Many commercially used fireworks and even some sparklers contain barium which can cause animals to become extremely weak and uncoordinated. Heart problems can be seen as well. These fireworks are most dangerous after they have been used, so all remnants of fireworks should be picked up and discarded appropriately before any pets are allowed to roam the area.

In order to keep your pets safe this holiday, keep any fireworks or sparkles out of paw’s reach and to avoid any anxiety, keep them in a small windowless room with soft music or white noise. Have a happy and safe Fourth of July!

If your pet has been exposed to fireworks or any other holiday hazard, please contact a veterinarian or call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 immediately.