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Dog Safety on the Fourth of July

Take care with dogs around pools.

Summer, and the Fourth of July in particular, is a great time to invite friends over for backyard barbecues and to spend time by the pool. However, summertime parties can pose potential threats to your dog. Follow these tips to help keep your dog safe during the summer and holiday fun:

Take Care with Food and Garbage Around Your Dog

It may be tempting to give your dog table scraps during a summer barbecue, but refrain from doing this. All the seasonings and sauces used on barbecue food can upset your dog's stomach and make him sick. There is also the potential for your dog to consume raw beef or chicken during a barbecue, which could result in bacterial poisoning or intestinal obstruction or perforation by bones. Likewise, consuming unattended alcoholic beverages, even in very small amounts, can cause health issues for your dog. So be sure to keep all food and beverages out of your dog's reach. Take a look at this slideshow to learn more about human foods that are poisonous to dogs.

Keep trash in a closed container that your dog can not access. A common life-threatening emergency that veterinarians see after holidays is pancreatitis, a painful and dangerous condition that is usually caused by dogs raiding garbage cans.

While barbecuing, make sure that any lighter fluid or matches are out of your dog's reach; these can be toxic to dogs.

Take Care That Your Dog Doesn't Escape

If you are having a party, make sure that your guests know not to allow your dog to leave your yard—or your home, if you're restricting your dog to the indoors during any portion of the event. The action and unfamiliar faces at a party and, even more so, the blasts from fireworks in the air may cause some dogs to become disoriented and even frantic. They may react by running off and becoming lost. Make sure your guests know the importance of not letting your dog out of his assigned area.

Keep Holiday Decorations Away from Your Dog

While glow sticks are fun in the evening, they are not meant to be worn by your dog. The liquid contained in these and other light-up decorations and toys are toxic to dogs, and they can easily be chewed through. Candles should be kept well out of reach of dogs and their tails. They could easily be knocked over and become a fire hazard.

Don't Use Human Products on Dogs

Do not apply any insecticides or bug repellents (even natural ones) to your dog unless they are specifically labeled for use in dogs because they may contain ingredients that are toxic. Candles and sprays containing bug deterrents may also be toxic to dogs and should remain out of their reach so they cannot be ingested.

Be Aware of Your Dog's Fireworks Fears

Many dogs become very anxious and scared when the fireworks begin. It is important to make sure your dog is comfortable, contained, and safe while fireworks are going off. Keeping your dog secure inside your home with comfort items such as his bed and favorite toy may help calm his nerves. Playing classical music to dull the noise outside may also be soothing. If music is not an option, leaving the TV on may help. Be sure that the room or crate in which you leave your dog is a safe place where he cannot harm himself. Many dogs, even if otherwise mild-mannered or confident, will scratch and chew to try to escape from the firework noise and end up injuring themselves in the process. Take a look at this article for more information and tips on helping a dog with fireworks fears.

There is an increase in the number of lost dogs around the Fourth of July. The reason? Dogs who are fearful of the noise from nearby fireworks may try to seek safety by running away from the source of the noise. However, since fireworks explosions can be heard from quite a distance, and there may be a number of places in the neighborhood setting off fireworks, a dog trying to get out of earshot of the explosions may end up far from home and be unsure how to get back. The best way to avoid such a fate is to keep your dog safely confined inside your home, perhaps in a crate if he is crate-trained. Alternatively, if it is not too noisy or hectic outside and your dog seems comfortable in the yard during the festivities, keep him securely tethered, via a leash, to you or a person who is trusted by both you and your dog. Be prepared to take him inside at the first sign of fear or panic. Do not tie him up; a responsible person needs to be on the other end of his leash!

Unlit fireworks within the home are also dangerous. Fireworks contain chemicals that are toxic to dogs if consumed, so keep all fireworks in a safe place, out of your dog's reach.

Beware of Heat Stroke in Your Dog

During the hot summer months, it is essential to take the following precautions with your dog:

  • Provide your dog with an extra water bowl, and make sure there is fresh, clean water available to him at all times.
  • Keep an eye out for overexertion during walks in the heat.
  • Never leave your dog in your car. Even with the window down in the shade, your dog can quickly overheat and die from heat exhaustion. Cars heat up very quickly, and that quick trip into the store could turn fatal for your dog in a matter of minutes.

Pool Safety for Your Dog

Having a pool can pose a threat to your dog. Make sure your guests know not to put your dog in your pool, even if your dog is a great swimmer. The commotion of being in a people-filled pool could overwhelm your dog and cause him to panic and not be able to find an escape route quickly. As dogs age, so do their swimming abilities, so do not assume that your dog will always be able to keep afloat. Having a fence around your pool or keeping your dog on a leash, under your control, is your best bet for avoiding any water mishaps.

Keep an Eye out for Other Potential Dangers for Your Dog

This list of potential dangers around the house during summer holidays is not exhaustive—that would be impossible. Keeping your home safe for your furry family members is an ongoing process that requires knowledge, awareness of your dog, attention to detail, commitment, and common sense. However, this article does point out common hazards that your dog is likely to face during summer holidays, special occasions, and major get-togethers.

If you suspect that your dog has ingested something poisonous, please do not hesitate to call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-4ANI-HELP (888-426-4435). If you have general concerns that something in your dog's environment is impacting his or her health or well-being, please consult with your veterinarian.


You May Also Like These Articles:

Fireworks Fear in Dogs

How to Cope with Canine Anxiety and Fear by Using Adaptil(TM) (Formerly called D.A.P)

Traveling With Your Dog

Car Sickness in Dogs

Foods Toxic to Dogs - Slideshow

Dog Park Preparation Tips - Slideshow

Dehydration in Dogs

First Aid Kit for Dogs


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