The picnic basket is prepped, and bathing suits and sunscreen are in the car, along with lawn chairs, an umbrella, pool toys, and blankets. The backyard is set up for later with the tiki torches and the mosquito zapper. Whew! Did you forget anything in your July Fourth plans?

Did you make plans for your pet?

It’s OK. Everyone gets busy, especially around a holiday. July Fourth is the height of summer, and everyone is exploding like fireworks about their celebration plans. There’s not enough time to think of everything. That’s why Little Animal Hospital has your pets covered this July Fourth with a simple acronymSPARK. These five easy-to-remember steps are our top tips you should know heading into the holiday.  

S: Speak with your veterinarian

If your pet has a history of anxiety and fear around fireworks or loud noises, or you believe they  may react poorly, give us a call. Noise aversion is a condition where pets react with intense anxiety and fear to loud sounds. Reactions can range from the undeniable (e.g., destruction of furniture and other home belongings) to subtle and quiet (e.g., a slight behavior change). If your pet’s condition is new, an examination may be necessary to ensure nothing is amiss with their health. Many pets benefit from calming products and supplements, or prescription anti-anxiety medications. Our veterinarian will discuss these options for your pet at your visit.   

P: Prepare a safe space

Pets and fireworks do not mix. Set up a safe area inside your home where your pet can rest during the fireworks display, or other overwhelming events, such as a house party. A quiet, windowless space (e.g., basement, laundry room, or interior bedroom) is ideal. A running dryer makes great white noise during fireworks. Also, consider these additional features for your pet’s quiet space:

  • A crate 
  • Soft, familiar bedding 
  • Toys, if your dog does not destroy them
  • Puzzle toys, filled Kongs, or licky mats with spreadable, soft foods  
  • White noise, soft music, or a television on low volume.   

A: Anticipate heat risks

To recognize the threat posed by summer heat, knowing these numbers can help: 

  • In 10 minutes The temperature in a parked car with the windows cracked open on a summer 70-degree day can climb 20 degrees in 10 minutes. Never leave an animal or child in a parked car.
  • In 7 seconds Protect those pet paw pads. According to a 1970 study on thermal contact burns, asphalt can reach 125 degrees on a windless, sunny, 77-degree day. If you cannot hold the back of your hand to a surface for 7 seconds, your dog will burn their feet. Walk on the grass.

You must also be able to recognize heat stress signs in your pet. Seek veterinary treatment if your pet shows any of the following:

  • Excessive panting
  • Glassy eyes
  • Elevated heart and respiratory rate
  • Lack of coordination
  • Brick red or purple/blue gums
  • Collapse

If you must be outdoors with your pet, provide ample shade and water, and monitor them carefully.  

R: Resist the urge to indulge your pet

From county fair fare, to barbecue, to apple pie, to homemade ice cream, July Fourth is known for its iconic foods. It’s hard, but you must resist those puppy-dog eyes as you prepare the table or buffet line, and keep your pet on their regular diet. Greasy, sugary, or dairy foods may trigger a negative reaction, because your pet’s digestive system is not designed to handle a summer smorgasboard. To avoid a night of canine or feline gastrointestinal fireworks, keep your pet on pet food.

K: Keep pet hazards out of reach

Foreign body ingestion (i.e., the consumption of a non-food item, often resulting in a gastric or intestinal blockage) is a common July Fourth pet emergency, often because a pet gets into the trash, and ingests corn cobs, meat bones, or food packaging and wrappers. These items may require emergency abdominal surgery. Keep all trash inaccessible to pets, and dispose of all meat bones immediately.

The sweet, sometimes fruity, smell of alcoholic drinks can entice dogs and cats. They can easily sample an unattended drink at a lawn or house party, but ingesting alcohol in only small amounts can lead to seizures, respiratory failure, and death for dogs and cats. Serve drinks in lidded containers, or confine your pet.

Fireworks are another July Fourth toxin. Fireworks contain chemicals and heavy metals, and ingestion can lead to gastrointestinal problems, such as vomiting and bloody diarrhea. When ingested in large quantities, these toxins can lead to kidney failure, seizures, tremors, and respiratory distress. Store fireworks securely, and check your yard thoroughly for fireworks debris before you let your dog go outside on July 5th.

A plan in place for your pet

We know you love your pet. We also know that life gets hectic, and your pet’s needs may fly under the radar. Don’t get caught off-guard this July Fourth. Use the Little Animal Hospital’s SPARK when you plan your pet’s holiday, and your own. Start now with the “S,” and schedule an appointment with us to discuss your pet’s noise sensitivity and other summer safety concerns.