While pets are at risk for accidental poisonings all year round, July 4th weekend is an especially dangerous time for cats and dogs. With the abundance of food, friends, outdoor activities, and fireworks, Independence Day is a hazardous day for our furry friends.
In order to keep your pet safe during the holiday festivities, consider this list of the most common pet hazards that result in calls to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) every July 4th.
Fireworks are the #1 culprit in pet poisonings on July 4th. Generally, fireworks are divided into two separate groups: personal and professional fireworks. Personal fireworks are available for purchase at a wide variety of stands and booths around many states in the months leading up to July 4th, while professional-grade fireworks are restricted for use by professionals only. Fireworks contain a wide range of chemicals including aluminum, barium, chlorate, copper, magnesium, nitrates, phosphorous, sulfur, titanium, and zinc.
All fireworks have the potential to poison pets if eaten from their boxes or as leftovers in the street. Symptoms of firework poisoning include burns to the skin and mouth, gastrointestinal pain or upset, and intestinal obstruction. In some cases, pets that eat fireworks can develop heavy metal toxicity.
July is a great month for getting outside and enjoying a dip in the pool with some friends, but when pet parents aren't careful, the chemicals used to clean the pool can easily poison a pet. Pool chemicals often include chlorine, muriatic acid, and bromine. Once these chemicals have been diluted in the water of a pool or hot tub, they present a far less severe danger to pets. However, when they are in their un-diluted forms, they are incredibly toxic. Pets can ingest these products by chewing through the packaging or eating them directly. Symptoms often include respiratory problems, gastrointestinal upset, or chemical burns to the mouth.
Sometimes pet poisoning over the 4th of July is as simple as cats and dogs getting into human foods they shouldn't be eating. While things like grapes, raisins, onions, garlic, macadamia nuts, chocolate, avocados, cherry pits, and alcohol are harmless for humans, they can be dangerous for pets. Those pets who eat large quantities of these foods can easily find themselves very ill. To prevent this problem from arising, keep human food out of reach of pets and properly dispose of all the leftovers when you're done eating!
Although the prospect of pet poisoning is a frightening one, most of these scary conditions can be easily prevented through routine precautions. When pet parents are aware of the commonplace things that can present a health risk to their pets, they are better equipped to handle these hazards properly and make the 4th of July holiday as pet-safe as possible.
Content reviewed by a veterinarian.