Take a guess: Which day of the year do you think is the busiest for animal shelters across the U.S.? If you said July 5th, you’re right. According to the American Humane Association, the day after Independence Day is traditionally the busiest day out of the entire year at America’s shelters as animals scared and disoriented by 4th of July fireworks celebrations run away from their safe homes and become lost, sometimes traveling for miles in the summer heat before being reported to a local agency. Puppies and young dogs are especially unaccustomed to the sounds of fireworks, but even older dogs that are normally calm and laid-back can be alarmed when the pyrotechnics begin. Panicked and frightened, runaways are also more likely to be struck by cars during their travels.
The loud bangs and bright bursts aren’t the only hazards associated with fireworks. They’re also highly toxic, and pets that are prone to chew often wind up poisoned when they locate an unattended and poorly secured stash. The Pet Poison Helpline reports many fireworks contain chemicals that can harm the kidneys and destroy red blood cells, effects that can cause extreme pain and even death. Plus, fireworks – even seemingly harmless ones like sparklers – can pose a fire hazard to pet hair, resulting in significant burns and physical and psychological trauma.
Maybe you’re not planning on taking your pet to see fireworks, but you are planning on having a 4th of July backyard barbecue. Surely, your pet will be OK being a part of all that outdoor fun, right? Actually, barbecues and outdoor gatherings can pose risks to pets as well. Lots of activity and noise, especially involving young kids or boisterous adults, can seem threatening to dogs and puppies, and dog bites are not uncommon. Plus, barbecue foods can pose risks to pets that aren’t used to spicy sauces and marinades. Even corn on the cob and grapes can cause serious medical issues for many dogs.
Dehydration is another serious risk to pets at 4th of July celebrations. Even if you keep your pet indoors, the excitement of outdoor activities and the sound of fireworks can waft indoors, making pets nervous – and that means lots of panting and a greater risk of dehydration. Dogs and puppies should always have access to shade and plenty of clean, fresh water all day and all night long.
So how can you help your pet have a happy 4th of July holiday this year? Keep him inside in a cool area with plenty of fresh water, and keep a TV on to drown out the noise of a backyard party of loud fireworks. Let your pet have plenty of space if the noise or vibrations of a local fireworks celebration seep in – don’t crowd him, but be ready to provide soothing words and gestures if he comes to you for solace. And if you’re having a party, be sure to check in on your pet from time to time so he doesn’t feel isolated.