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Fourth of July Festivities Full of Risks for Family Pets

Loud fireworks and food left unattended pose problems for pets.

Food, family and fireworks are just a few of the fun events associated with the Fourth of July. While most celebrations include a wide variety of activities for people and pets alike, there are also a lot of risks for animals associated with this holiday.

If you plan on bringing your furry companion with you to enjoy the festivities this year, here are some safety tips to keep in mind.

Fireworks: The loud noises and fiery blasts associated with these pyrotechnics can be very traumatic for most animals. This stress can take the form of shivering, cowering, destructive chewing rampages or running away to escape. During this time, local animal shelters see a significant upsurge in the number of lost and stray animals coming through their doors.

To be on the safe side, it’s best to leave your pets safe at home for this part of the Independence Day celebration, preferably in a quiet room where there are no windows. Remove any items that your pet could destroy, and turn on a TV or radio to distract your pets from loud noises and help them to relax. It’s also a good idea to create a special area in your home where your pet feels safe, such as a crate or kennel.

Microchip, microchip, microchip: I can’t say it enough: If you haven’t done so already, please have your pet microchipped. It may not prevent your pet from ending up at a shelter, but it will guarantee a swift reunion in the event they are lost. We provide microchipping here at the Escondido Humane Society for $35, and other shelters offer the service as well. It’s also important to have proper identification on your pet at all times. Be sure to include your phone number and address on the tag.

Should your dog get out, check your local animal shelters. Poway residents (and residents of Escondido and San Marcos) should contact the Escondido Humane Society at (760) 888-BARK to see if your animal is at the shelter. The San Diego Humane Society provides Animal Control services for the cities of Oceanside and Vista; the County of San Diego Department of Animal Services provides Animal Control services for the unincorporated areas of San Diego County and the cities of Carlsbad, Del Mar, Encinitas, San Diego, Santee and Solana Beach.

Uphold the no-scraps rule: There will undoubtedly be an abundance of delicious food available at barbecues and celebrations. Many types of human foods can cause your pet to vomit or have diarrhea. Additionally, a lot of the foods present at Independence Day gatherings (avocado, bones, grapes, raisins or onions) are poisonous to dogs. Let your family and friends know not to feed your pet, and remain vigilant in making sure your request is being respected.

Protect your pet from the sun: Celebrating all day outdoors in the sun will take its toll on your furry friend. Provide your pet with plenty of water and access to shaded areas throughout the day. Beware of hot asphalt, as it can burn the bottom of your pet’s paws and cause painful blisters. Also, protect your pet from the sun with sunscreen. Human sunscreen has certain chemicals that can be harmful to pets if ingested, so be sure to use sunscreen that is made specifically for animals.

Fourth of July decorations: These ornamental items can easily be mistaken for chew toys. Glow sticks are one dangerous decoration in particular that can pose a serious health threat to your pet if its contents are ingested.

Look for lighter fluid and matches strewn about: Matches contain chemicals that can cause kidney damage in animals. Furthermore, ingesting lighter fluid can lead to severe breathing problems, gastrointestinal irritation or the depression of the central nervous system. These items are commonly tossed aside on the ground or low surfaces, so be mindful of where they are being stored so that your pet doesn’t have access to them.

No-alcohol zone: If you and your dog are invited to a barbeque or gathering where alcohol will be served, beware of any unattended drinks. Animals are naturally curious about unknown substances they encounter. If ingested by an animal, alcohol can cause weakness, lethargy, coma or even death. 

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