For many Americans, the Fourth of July means cookouts, hot weather and fireworks – all of which can pose a danger to dogs, according to Liz Rozanski, DVM, DACVIM, DACVECC, associate professor of clinical sciences at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University.
Rozanski is section head of emergency care at Tufts’ Foster Hospital for Small Animals, one of the nation’s busiest academic veterinary emergency rooms. She offers the following tips to help keep your dog safe during the celebration:
Common foods found at cookouts can be toxic to dogs. The garlic in your favorite marinade, the grapes and raisins in your fruit salad or the chocolate in your brownies may cause harm to your canine friend. Keep them out of your dog’s reach.
Shish kabobs and other foods-on-a-stick pose a special danger to dogs, who can ingest them and wind up with fragments that can cause blockages or gastrointestinal perforations. Bones also can splinter inside a dog’s digestive tract. Keep pets clear of chicken wings and don’t give them bones from the meat you grill.
A little food at the cookout is fun for dogs, so don't be afraid to let them enjoy the party. But since “people” food adds up quickly, have your guests, especially kids, check in with you before feeding Fido their scraps. Letting dogs overeat can cause vomiting or more serious problems.
During the hot, humid months, heat stroke and exhaustion are a special concern for canines. Make sure they have plenty of water. Put some ice cubes in the dog's water bowl for a special treat, Rozanski suggests, and provide a shady spot for your dog to lie down. If your dog is panting excessively, shows signs of lethargy or has dry gums, call your veterinarian right away.
And remember – during warm weather, never leave pets in the car. Any outside temperature above 65 degrees is worrisome, so leave pets at home in a cool, safe place instead.
A Quiet Place
I know my cat isn't the only pet terrified of loud, booming sounds. Dogs afraid of thunder are most certainly going to be fearful of fireworks. If you head out with your family to watch the fireworks, make sure your dog has a safe, quiet (ideally, soundproof) place to rest during the rockets’ red glare.
The Fourth of July is a great opportunity for everyone to have some summertime fun. By following these dog safety tips, you can ensure that you and your pet will enjoy Independence Day together safely.