How to Have a Fantastic Fourth of July with Your Pets!

July 2, 2018

a cat in front of an american flag

Break out your grills, lawns chairs and plenty of food, because it’s that time of year—Independence Day is just around the corner! The Fourth of July is always a great day to celebrate with friends, family and furry ones alike. While it may seem like a great idea to treat your pet to some celebration scraps and have them join in on all of the fun, the reality is that some festive foods and activities can be hazardous to your furry friends. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) wants you to be sure to keep the following tips in mind while celebrating this summer holiday with your pets:

  • Never leave alcoholic drinks unattended. It’s no secret that alcoholic beverages have the potential to poison pets. If ingested, your pet could become very intoxicated and weak, severely depressed or could go into a coma. Death from respiratory failure is also a possibility in severe cases.
  • Keep an eye on those chemicals. Do not apply any sunscreen or insect repellent product to your pet that is not labeled specifically for use on animals. Ingestion of certain sunscreen products could result in drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst and lethargy. The misuse of insect repellents that contain the chemical DEET can lead to neurological problems. You should also keep citronella candles, insect coils and oil products out of pets’ reach, too. 
  • Be wary of where you keep your matches and lighter fluid.Certain types of matches contain chlorates, which could potentially damage blood cells and result in difficulty breathing—or even kidney disease in severe cases—if ingested. Lighter fluid comes with its own set of dangers, and can be irritating to skin. If ingested, it can produce gastrointestinal irritation and central nervous system depression. If lighter fluid is inhaled, aspiration pneumonia and breathing problems could develop.
  • Keep your pets on their normal diet. Sudden changes in your pet’s diet (even if it’s just for one day) can sometimes lead to indigestion and diarrhea. This is particularly true for older animals who have more delicate digestive systems and specific nutritional requirements. Not to mention, foods such as onions, chocolate, coffee, avocado, grapes, raisins, salt and yeast dough can all be potentially toxic to companion animals. Check out our full list of people foods to avoid feeding your pets for more information, and consider packing some of your pet’s favorite usual treats to give them something special on the holiday! 
  • Remember to keep a no-glow zone. For parties and celebrations that last into the night, glow sticks and glow jewelry are popular party favors. While the luminescent substance contained in these products is not highly toxic, excessive drooling and gastrointestinal irritation could still result from ingestion, and intestinal blockage could occur from swallowing large pieces of the plastic containers. Be sure to keep those items reserved for your human guests and avoid putting them on pets.
  • Be careful when it comes to fireworks! While exposure to lit fireworks can potentially result in severe burns and/or trauma to the face and paws of curious pets, even unused fireworks can pose a danger. Many types contain potentially toxic substances, including potassium nitrate, arsenic and other heavy metals. Loud noises can also be a big concern for some sensitive pets. See APCC’s full list of fireworks safety concerns and tips for more information. 
  • Keep gates and doors closed. Given all the excitement around Independence Day parties, it isn’t uncommon for some pets to get scared and run away. Be sure that all exits are securely closed, and that your pet is inside or in your sight at all times. Also, be sure that your pet is wearing proper identification tags, and that their microchip is up-to-date should they get out.

Use the shareable image below to remind your friends and family to be on the lookout for potential pet dangers this Fourth of July. For more safety tips and helpful resources, like what to do if your pet gets lost during any summer festivities, download the ASPCA mobile app and the APCC mobile app to stay informed and aware year-round!

4th of July infographic

If you have any reason to suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center immediately with our 24 hour hotline at (888) 426-4435.