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4th of July Safety Tips
Keeping dogs healthy and happy while toasting the founders
Zoie is all smiles on Independence Day

Other than a cloud-and-drizzle-loving barista friend of mine, nearly everyone I know delights in summer. And what’s not to love about long days, blooming gardens, barbecues and picnics? But like so many good things, summer, and especially the Fourth of July, aren’t without their risky aspects—especially for pets.

To help keep the holidays joy-filled and injury-free, the ASPCA* has provided a few sensible, easy-to-follow suggestions for the season.

1. Be sure to keep people food and drinks at barbeques away from your animals. There is something about dining outside off paper plates that results in an abundance of low-hanging fruit for poaching dogs—look out! People food and drink, especially alcohol, can be dangerous to pets and should always be kept out of reach.

2. Do not apply any sunscreen or insect repellent product to animals that is not labeled specifically for their use. From what I read, there are plenty of these products that are none too good for us humans either.

3. Always keep matches and lighter fluid out of your pets’ reach. Certain types of matches contain chlorates, which could potentially damage blood cells and result in difficulty breathing—or even kidney disease in severe cases. Lighter fluid can be irritating to skin, and if ingested can produce gastrointestinal irritation and central nervous system depression.

4. Never use fireworks around pets! Do we really need to say this? While exposure to lit fireworks can potentially result in severe burns and/or trauma to the face and paws of curious pets, even unused fireworks can pose a danger. Many types contain potentially toxic substances, including potassium nitrate, arsenic and other heavy metals.

5. Confirm the contact info on your dog’s tags are up-to-date, and attached to a properly fitted collar. A dog frightened by fireworks might bolt from a yard or through an open door. Proper identification and micro-chipping improve the chances an escaped pet will be returned home safely and promptly.

6. Loud, crowded fireworks displays are no fun for pets, so please resist the urge to take them to Independence Day festivities. Instead, keep your dogs and cats safe from the noise in a quiet, sheltered and escape-proof area at home. (If you’re dog struggles with loud noices, talk to your vet about a sedative.)

7. Keep your pups hydrated. It’s coming on heat-wave season, and dehydration is a serious risk. Be sure you always have a generous amount of fresh water on hand to quench your dog’s thirst.

Have we missed anything? How do you celebrate the Fourth with your dogs?

*Update: I’ve added a few more helpful tips from SEAACA (Southeast Area Animal Control Authority), which provides animal care and control services for 14 cities in southeast Los Angeles County and northern Orange County.

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Lisa Wogan lives in Seattle and is the author of, most recently, Dog Park Wisdom. lisawogan.com

Photo by Tycha.

CommentsPost a Comment
Please note comments are moderated. After being approved your comment will appear below.
Submitted by Clint Arthur | June 27 2011 |

This could save your pet's Iife: clintarthur.com/wordpress

Submitted by Sherri | June 29 2011 |

Thanks for the safety tips. What a beautiful photo of Zoie. Looks like she is having a blast! Was that taken by a professional photographer?

Submitted by Anonymous | June 30 2011 |

Not by a professional, just a very photo savy poodle taken by a proud camera happy mom. But thank for the kind words.

Submitted by Kyra Compinsky ... | July 3 2013 |

One more VERY important thing: don't leave your dog unattended in a car, even if the windows are open slightly. First, the air in the car heats up quickly, and if in the sun, can reach dangerous levels that can induce heat-stroke and possibly death. Second, without a source of water, the dog can become dehydrated. I have seen dogs in these situations too often, and wonder why the owners put their dogs in danger.

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