As the highlight of the summer holiday season approaches, you may be planning your cookout menu, purchasing fireworks for your annual display, and getting the pool ready for splashing and lounging. However, your cat or dog may be watching your July Fourth party-planning endeavors suspiciously, since they know all the troubles this holiday can cause. Many dangers abound during July Fourth festivities, but by being aware of potential pet hazards, you can keep your four-legged friend safe when they join in the fun. Here are four ways to ensure your pet enjoys the July Fourth holiday.

#1: Keep an eye on weather conditions to avoid an overheated pet

July Fourth can be one hot holiday for your fur-coat-wearing pal, so keep a close eye on the temperature and humidity. The temperature may not be in the triple digits, but high humidity can still make your pet miserable, and can be dangerous for them. To avoid the worst of the heat and humidity, exercise your pet early in the morning. The late night walks after the sun sets may seem cooler, but the asphalt still holds the sun’s heat and can scorch your pet’s paws. 

If your pet ventures outdoors to garner your guests’ attention, monitor them for heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Signs your pet is overheating include:

  • Panting more heavily than normal
  • Thick, ropy saliva
  • Bright-red gums and tongue 
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Stumbling
  • Collapse
  • Vomiting and diarrhea

Pets who do not receive prompt cooling measures can suffer from organ damage that may not appear immediately after a heatstroke event. If you notice your pet becoming uncomfortable in the heat, bring them indoors, place a fan in front, or run cool water over them in the bathtub. Provide your pet with plenty of cool, fresh water, and check their temperature, which should remain under 103 degrees. 

#2: Do not invite your pet to your cookout

Although that begging stare is tough to ignore, don’t invite your pet to grab a plate at your cookout. Many popular barbecue foods are unsafe for pets, including these few that your pet may enjoy, but should not get their paws on:

  • Steak and chicken bones — A juicy T-bone or chicken leg is likely to produce a puddle of drool from your pet, but the bones from these foods can shatter and pierce their gastrointestinal tract, or become lodged, and require surgical removal. And, sharing the fat from your steak can cause life-threatening pancreatitis in your four-legged friend.
  • Corn cobs — Corn cobs may seem like a fun chew toy for your pooch, but they can be inadvertently swallowed and need surgical removal.
  • High fat foods — Your secret family potato salad recipe likely calls for an entire jar of mayonnaise, plus healthy amounts of onion and garlic. High fat foods can seriously upset your pet’s stomach, and may cause vomiting, diarrhea, or pancreatitis. Onions, garlic, leeks, and chives can be toxic and lead to anemia in pets.

When in doubt whether your cookout foods are safe for your pet, skip them, and instead offer a rubber Kong stuffed with frozen yogurt, peanut butter, or canned pet food.

#3: Watch out for water dangers that could harm your pet

Nothing beats the heat better than a dip in a refreshing pool or lake. However, not all pets instinctively know how to doggy paddle. If your pet will be in water over their head, ensure they are fitted appropriately with a life vest that will keep them afloat. Also, prevent your pet from drinking pool or lake water, as chemicals, bacteria, toxins, and other health hazards abound in these water bodies. Instead, pack bottled drinking water for your pet if you’re heading to the lake or a friend’s pool.

#4: Create a safe space for your pet to hide from fireworks

Fireworks and summer thunderstorms can terrify pets, and if your neighborhood block is planning a booming fireworks display, your furry pal will likely seek shelter. Provide your pet with a safe space, whether a small room or their cozy crate, that you outfit with their favorite items. To help soothe your pet’s nerves, apply a compression wrap that provides gentle pressure to calming points on their body, and diffuse species-specific pheromones designed to help promote calm. You can also occupy your pet with a new toy, training session, or food puzzle. Many pets are highly food-motivated and may focus on a tasty, long-lasting treat instead of the booms exploding overhead.

If you know from experience that your pet is terrified during loud events, reach out to your Stone Ridge veterinarian for help. Anti-anxiety medications can calm your pet’s fears without over-sedating them, and, combined with your other calming methods, can help them feel more at ease.

Many pets are fearful of loud noises, and are especially noise-averse to fireworks. Avoid waiting until the last minute to help your furry pal find calm in the middle of a fireworks storm by contacting our Stone Ridge Conroe team, to discuss their anxiety, fear, and noise aversion.