July 4 is a day for fireworks, for celebrating freedom and—more than any other day—for taking pets to the emergency room. To us, fireworks signal independence, but to pets, these sounds bring fear and disorientation—leading pets to do almost anything to get away, even jumping through glass windows, running into traffic or frantically scaling tall fences. As you can imagine, this often leads to life threatening injuries for the pet.

Here are some tips from veterinarians to help keep pets safe this July 4:


Keep a close watch on your pets anytime you hear fireworks and consider putting your pets in an enclosed safe space. If you know your pet is sensitive to loud noises, see your primary care veterinarian for recommendations on calming medicines.

Heat stroke

Heat stroke is just as real for pets as it is for humans. Dogs have trouble cooling down on hot days because they do not sweat like humans. Dogs can sometimes die from heat stroke after less than an hour of outdoor activity.

Limit time outside on hot days and always make sure you provide pets with shade, water and a way to get back inside.

Outdoor activities

If your pets are with you outdoors, make sure you supervise them, just as you would a child. It’s easy for pets to get lost, run into streets or get bitten by a critter. Sticks and branches on the ground can also cause choking and severe mouth injuries to dogs.

If your pet likes to chew and chase, use a tennis ball, Frisbee or other toy instead of branches. Also remember, concrete or blacktop surfaces become painfully hot and can reach well over 100°F, leading to severe paw pad burns.

If your dog swims a lot, their paw pads are at a greater risk of burning. Water softens paw pads, so when dogs walk on hot asphalt after getting out of a pool or lake, their paws are ultra-sensitive and more prone to burning or cracking.


Many foods that are safe and healthy for humans will make pets sick. Foods that can sicken dogs include: avocados, apple seeds, caffeinated or alcoholic beverages, onions, potatoes, grapes, tomatoes, chocolate, and sugar-free gum containing xylitol.

Laura Fourniotis