(WFXR) — The 4th of July is a day of delicious food, celebratory fireworks, and other fun activities, but for all the exciting distractions, pet owners need to take precautions to protect their furry friends from certain holiday hazards.
WFXR News has compiled a list of safety tips from VCA Animal Hospitals and the American Veterinary Medical Association that will help you avoid potential pet pitfalls so you and your furry friends can have a happy, healthy 4th of July.
The holidays are packed with delicious dishes that our pets would love to try. However, for the sake of their health, you must resist their puppy dog eyes and cuteness, as many human foods are poisonous to pets and even a small bite will result in a trip to the emergency room.
VCA Animal Hospitals has compiled this list of the most common and serious toxic foods for furry friends:
- Chocolate (especially dark chocolate and baking chocolate), coffee, and caffeine: Taking small amounts can cause vomiting and diarrhea, but large amounts can cause seizures and abnormal heart rhythms.
- Alcohol: Even if they consume a relatively small amount of alcohol, stumbling and vomiting will cause pets to experience severe symptoms such as coma and even death.
- Grapes and Raisins: Even a single grape or raisin can cause kidney failure in dogs. This includes baked goods with raisins, like carrot cake.
- Onions and Garlic: Whether eaten raw or in powdered form, these flavor enhancers damage the red blood cells of pets, especially cats.
- Sugar-free gum and candy containing xylitol: This sweetener causes life-threatening hypoglycemia and liver failure in dogs. In other words, if you keep gum and breath mints in your purse, make sure you keep them out of reach.
- Macadamia Nuts: While most nuts are high in fat and can cause vomiting and diarrhea, macadamia nuts cause weakness, tremors, and hyperthermia.
- Yeast Dough: This continues to rise in your pet’s stomach, leading to bloating and ethanol production, which causes the same toxicity as alcohol.
There are also other foods that aren’t entirely toxic but can still cause 4th of July food emergencies for your pets, according to experts:
- Fatty foods — like bacon or butter — can lead to serious stomach problems and pancreatitis
- Inedible parts of food like bones, peaches, corn on the cob, and watermelon rinds can cause constipation
- Moldy foods can cause serious stomach upset
- Some pets are actually lactose intolerant, so avoid giving your pets milk and dairy products to prevent diarrhea and stomach upset
“So many foods can be potentially problematic that we recommend remembering just one rule: No human food for your pet!” VCA Animal Hospitals stated. “Ask everyone who spends time with your pet to also follow the rule and provide healthy treats instead, so everyone can still treat their pet with an alternative.”
Even though kebab skewers, cutlery, and grills aren’t food, your pet may not know this, so keep these items out of reach of swallows or paws.
If you’re hosting a Fourth of July gathering, you should also make sure you check your yard for leftover food or fireworks that your curious pets might be trying to eat.
Fear of fireworks
While many people love fireworks, we can’t say the same about our pets. With their keen sense of hearing and smell, they can find this festive tradition something to fear, so keep your pet away from places where firecrackers might be set off.
If you know your pet is afraid of fireworks, VCA veterinary clinics recommend teaching them some coping skills before the big night so they’ll feel more comfortable leaving them at home when going to parties, parades, and fireworks :
- Set up a safe spot ahead of time: Choose a spot in your home that your pet likes to relax in that also muffles the sights and sounds of the fireworks — such as Make a walk-in closet or a room with blackout curtains—then fill it with comfy beds, some favorite toys, and treats. That way, your pet has a “happy place” where they can feel safe when they’re scared.
- Drown Out The Sound: Close all the windows and doors in your house and let the music play in your pet’s safe spot to drown out the bangs during the fireworks display.
- Provide Plenty of Distractions: Give your furry friend something fun to focus on during the celebration by bringing out their favorite toys or filling toys with treats.
- Don’t Make a Fuss: While it’s natural to want to comfort your pet when they’re distressed,
- Consider calming supplements or pheromones: There are several natural supplements designed to reduce pet anxiety. Giving your furry friend some of this before the fireworks start can help them relax and reduce their responsiveness.
While this isn’t exactly a coping mechanism, experts say it’s still important to make sure your home and yard are secure, and that your pet is wearing their collar with updated tags in case they freak out and run away amidst all the noise – what a is common occurrence in the middle of July 4th. You should also consider having them microchipped.
Additionally, with any outdoor excursions, you have to keep in mind that uninvited guests — like fleas and ticks — might try to crash your pets’ party. These parasites hide in forests, tall grasses and foliage just waiting for a host to come by.
Not only are these pests a nuisance, VCA Animal Hospitals says many of them carry diseases that they can spread to our pets, or even us:
- Fleas can transmit tapeworms to pets.
- Ticks can transmit Lyme disease to both dogs and humans.
- Mosquitoes can transmit heartworm disease to pets.
- If you have a cat in your home, it could also be exposed to fleas, ticks, or mosquitoes riding on you or your dog.
To address this problem, all you need is flea and tick repellents that are not only highly effective, but also very easy to administer.
Other holiday hazards
According to VCA Animal Hospitals, citronella candles and tiki torch oil can cause stomach problems if swallowed or even lung irritation if the fumes are inhaled. You can also protect your pets from severe burns by keeping them away from fire, hot coals, and sparklers.
As the 4th of July is a summer festival, you need to keep an eye on the weather as too much sun, heat and humidity can be dangerous for pets. As such, the American Veterinary Medicine Association says you should keep animals indoors when it’s extremely hot and/or humid; make sure they have access to shady spots and plenty of water when they come outside, which shouldn’t take long in hot weather; and know the signs of overheating in a pet.
If you choose to let your pets cool off in or near a swimming pool, you’ll need to play lifeguard and make sure the water isn’t too warm or too cold.
In the meantime, if you’re hosting a holiday gathering, ask your guests to help ensure your pets don’t escape, even if it means leaving notes on doors and gates.