Fourth of July Hazards, a Guest Post from Dr. Rogers

One of the reasons I started this blog, was that, as a “seasoned” veterinarian, I have found myself giving the same advice and nuggets of information over and over. Clients often ask the same questions. A blog, I reasoned, seems like a great venue through which to take those oft asked questions, and answer them for the world to see.  This has worked well, except that WordPress has informed me that I have written almost 200 posts, since this blog’s 2008 inception, which seems pretty inconceivable .  I imagine I’ve got to be repeating myself at this point, which is what I was trying to avoid to begin with.

Anyhoo, this brings me to Dr. Roger’s blog entry today. She said she wanted to put together a blog about 4th of July dangers to your pet that pop up and ruin your holiday weekend. I imagine we will be seeing many of these things in the office on Saturday, and if we could prevent a few worried owners and sick pets, then that will be a win-win for everyone…

It is that time of year again. Happy July 4th!! During Independence Day, it is important to protect your fur person family member from annual 4th of July
hazards. Here is a list of the top 10 hazards of the 4th of July
1) Heat strokes
Dogs do not perspire like their human family members. Temperatures are only in the nineties right now, but with the heat index factored in, it is technically over 100 F easily. In a parked car (even with windows opened), it is at least 30F additionally to the outside temperature within 10 minutes or less.  It is important to keep your dog inside as much as possible and avoid dehydration. When your dog is outside, limit your dog walks to early morning or late at night to avoid the hotter parts of the day. Seek emergency help if your dog displays the following signs- excessive panting, difficulty breathing, drooling, weakness, seizures, diarrhea, and vomiting.  If you must do something to cool your dog on the way to the emergency room, it is important to cool foot pads with rubbing alcohol and offering cool water to drink but do NOT immerse your dog in an ice bath or wet their coat down with water – it will cool them down too much and too fast .
2) Fireworks
Never leave fireworks, matches, or lighter fluid within reach of your dog or cat.  If the fireworks go off near their faces, it can burn faces or injury eyes or mouths.  Fireworks contain poisonous materials such as arsenic and heavy metals.  Matches have chlorates that can damage red blood cells, cause difficulty breathing, or kidney failure. Lighter fluid is all around irritating to skin, mucous membranes, and gastrointestinal tract but it is also neurotoxic.  It can cause respiratory complications such as pneumonia or difficulty breathing if inhaled.
If you want to take your dog to the fireworks at the park, it is better to leave them at home.  Firework displays have large crowds of people and are very loud. It is great fun for you but no fun for them. It is better to leave them in a quiet, safe place  away preferable in a crate.  Thundershirts are great for pets that are stressed out from the sound of your neighborhood firework noises.  We would be happy to discuss other options if these tips do not help alleviate your pet’s anxiety.
3) Ingesting human food
Everyone enjoys barbecue, hamburgers, and hotdogs.  Please do not feed these to your dog or cat. These items are much too rich for their systems and can cause garbage gut, pancreatitis or possible foreign body ingestion (if they get into the trash).  Garbage gut is what we in the veterinary community call it when your pet has raided the trash and now has vomiting and diarrhea.  Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas and requires IV fluids and hospitalization.  It can be life threatening.  In the case of foreign bodies, your pet may require surgical removal.  It can be avoided by removing trash from your pet’s reach and not allowing your pet to have table food.
4)Beer and Wine
Do not let your dog or cat have access to alchoholic beverages.  They have the potential to poison your pet. Intoxication can cause weakness, depression, coma, respiratory failure and death.  Do not leave any of your drinks unattended.
5) Bite/ fight wounds
Not every human gets along with family members. Dogs can be the same way.  If they are meeting for the first time, it is best for them to meet on neutral ground on leashes.  Do not feed them together or give out treats. It may cause fighting.  Do not leave them unattended.
6) Sunscreen/insect repellants
Do not use human sunscreen or bug sprays on animals.  Use only products labeled specifically for animals or directed by your veterinarian.  Human sunscreen can cause gastrointestinal upset (drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea), excessive drinking, or lethargy.  Most human insect repellants have DEET or eucalyptus oil. DEET can cause seizures or other neurologic signs. Eucalytus oil can cause drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, depression, and weakness.
7) Swimming pool
Swimming pools can be a hazard for dogs in more ways than one. First do not leave your dog unattended around the pool. Make sure that your dog can easily get in and out of the pool.  Watch their paw pads. After being inside all winter, your dog’s paws may be softer and blister or get abraided on the concrete pool edge.
8) Glow sticks
Keep the glow sticks away from your dog.  The glow stick material is not toxic but may cause gastrointestinal upset and excessive drooling.  The sticks could be a potential foreign body.
9) Citronella candles, insect coils or insect oil repellants
These are great for keeping away Mosquitos and bugs, but they can cause burns when lite, stomach irritation, depression, or have neurologic system toxicity.  The oils are also potential irritating to the lungs causing respiratory distress to aspiration pneumonia.
10) Grandma’s purse
The ASPCA poison hotline has a drill that they call “Grandma’s purse”.  This is when your dog gets into someone’s purse and ingests medications or sugarless gum. My advice is to put the purses in a room or closet secured away from your pet’s reach.  If your dog or cat does happen to get into the purse, go to the emergency room and make a list of the possible ingested medications or gum.
Happy 4th of July! Wishing your entire family a very safe and fun weekend!
Elizabeth Rogers, DVM
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3 thoughts on “Fourth of July Hazards, a Guest Post from Dr. Rogers

  1. It’s understandable that people want to include Fido/Fluffy in festivities, but Fido/Fluffy doesn’t understand holidays. They just know that something is different.

    I am a true believer in putting pets in a quiet room with music playing (to hopefully cover the noise of fireworks). This keeps them out of the human food and they won’t run away when frightened by all the noise.

  2. P.S. Regarding blog posts…

    I just love hearing about pets’ diagnosis and treatment. Have you had a particularly difficult or interesting case lately? (I may be a cat-person, but I enjoy reading about dogs, too.)

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