As July Fourth draws near, you may be wondering whether your four-legged friend should join the festivities. The celebrations do pose several major hazards, like heatstroke, pet-toxic foods, and fireworks, but with a little bit of planning, your pet can still have fun. Follow these five tips to keep your furry pal safe on Independence Day.

#1: Identify your pet multiple ways

During Independence Day celebrations, more pets go missing than any other time of year. Pets go into a blind panic at the booming explosions and stunning light displays, causing them to dart out open doors, dig under fences, or rip their leashes from their owners’ hands. If your pet takes off when the fireworks begin, or because they are tempted by the aromas of the neighbors’ T-bones on the grill, ensure they find their way home by outfitting them with multiple identification forms. 

  • Tags — Ensure your pet’s collar identification tags are legible, securely attached, and up to date.
  • Collar — Ensure their collar is well-fitting and secure. You can also purchase a collar that has your phone number embroidered into the fabric should the ID tags fall off.
  • Microchip — Add a permanent identification form—a microchip. Your veterinarian will insert a microchip, which is no bigger than a grain of rice, under your pet’s skin, between the shoulderblades. When scanned, the chip emits a unique number that is linked to your contact information in the microchip registration company’s database. The number allows you to be reached if your pet is found, but keeps your personal information private. Inserting the chip is a quick, painless procedure.

#2: Safeguard your pet from heatstroke

In the midst of your July Fourth festivities, you can easily forget that your pet is following you around outside. However, high temperatures and humidity levels can quickly lead to heatstroke in pets, especially if they have no shade or fresh water. Pets who have thick coats, heart or respiratory conditions, or flat faces, or are obese, are more susceptible to heatstroke, so pay close attention to these pets when outdoors. Exercise in the early morning when temperature and humidity are typically lowest, and monitor your pet closely for impending heatstroke signs, which include:

  • Heavy panting
  • Thick, ropy drool
  • Bright red gums
  • Incoordination
  • Difficulty walking
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Collapse

If your pet begins to pant heavily and stagger, head into the cool indoors immediately. Provide them with cool water, place a fan in front, and wet down their fur—do not wrap them in a wet towel—to help heat dissipate.

#3: Keep hazardous foods out of your pet’s reach

A July Fourth highlight is the picnic table overflowing with delicious barbecue foods. From hot dogs and hamburgers, to coleslaw and potato salad, these foods are cookout staples—but they are not good for your furry pal. Fatty, greasy foods can cause pancreatitis, while bones in grilled meats can lead to a gastrointestinal obstruction. Side salads spiced up with onions, garlic, chives, and leeks can destroy your pet’s red blood cells, causing anemia. Stick to freezing “ice cubes” of your pet’s favorite canned food for their special beat-the-heat treat, rather than food from your picnic table.

#4: Use pest protection that is safe for your pet

Before heading outdoors, you likely coat yourself with a DEET-based product to shield yourself from mosquitoes and other biting pests. Pets can be sensitive to human bug repellent ingredients, and too much can cause toxicity. Stick to veterinarian-approved parasite preventives, such as flea, tick, and heartworm prevention products, to keep your furry pal safe from biting insects.

#5: Muffle the fireworks sounds to keep your pet calm

Many pets suffer from noise aversion (i.e., the fear of loud sounds), and July Fourth fireworks can kick that fear into overdrive. Help your pet remain calm during a fireworks show by providing  them with a quiet place—this can be the bathroom or a small bedroom with few windows—where they can feel safe. Ensure they have all the essentials in their hangout, including a comfortable, cozy bed for resting, and a long-lasting treat and favorite toy for entertainment. Also, diffuse calming pheromones, play soothing music, and apply a compression wrap to your pet, to boost the anxiety-reducing effects. Ensure your pet is in their safe haven before the fireworks start, to prevent their anxiety from skyrocketing, when calming them down will be more difficult.

Prepare your pet for the July Fourth festivities by double-checking their identification, including their microchip. If they are not microchipped, schedule an appointment with our Providence Vet team as soon as possible.