Officials give tips on keeping dogs, cats out of vet’s office on Independence Day

MECOSTA COUNTY — The Independence Day holiday is in full-swing and while families are gearing up for picnics and fireworks, it may be important to take a moment to ensure pets are safe through the festivities.

While it may seem like a great idea to reward your pets with scraps from the grill or bring them along to watch the Independence Day fireworks, some foods and activities can be potentially hazardous, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Both, the ASPCA and BluePearl Veterinary Partners, have a list of tips to keep cats and dogs safe through the holiday.


When setting off fireworks, keep them far away from your pets. Some dogs get so alarmed by the sound, they dart out the door in a misguided, frantic attempt to get away from the noise, said a press release from BluePearl.

Residents who know their dogs are afraid of fireworks should visit their local veterinarian for calming medicines or consider keeping their pets in an enclosed, safe space during the lighted displays.

The ASPCA suggests:

• Never using fireworks around pets! 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.

• Loud, crowded fireworks displays are no fun for pets who can become frightened or disoriented by the sound. Keep them safe from the noise in a quiet, sheltered and escape-proof area at home.


Many foods that are safe and healthy for humans will make pets sick, BluePearl said. Don’t give pets too many treats they are not accustomed to.

The ASPCA added pet-owners should keep their animals on a regular diet. Any change, even for one meal, can give the furry family members severe indigestion and diarrhea. Foods such as onions, chocolate, coffee, avocado, grapes, raisins, salt and yeast dough can all be potentially toxic to companion animals.

Pets also should not consume alcoholic drinks. Alcoholic beverages have the potential to poison pets, the ASPCA said. If ingested, the animal could become very intoxicated and weak, severely depressed or could go into a coma. Death from respiratory failure also is a possibility in severe cases.

Outdoor activities

BluePearl said dogs should be supervised, just as small children are. Pets can run into the street, fall into pools or get lost. Consider leaving pets at home during parades and other events where heat, crowds and hot asphalt can lead to trouble.

The ASPCA offers safety tips to keep the outdoors fun with pets:

• Do not apply any sunscreen or insect repellent product to your pet that is not labeled specifically for use on animals. Ingestion of sunscreen products can result in drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst and lethargy. The misuse of insect repellent containing DEET can lead to neurological problems.

• 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 kidney disease in severe cases. Lighter fluid can be irritating to skin, and if ingested can produce gastrointestinal irritation and central nervous system depression. If lighter fluid is inhaled, aspiration pneumonia and breathing problems could develop.

• Do not put glow jewelry on pets, or allow them to play with it. While the luminescent substance contained in these products is not highly toxic, excessive drooling and gastrointestinal irritation could still result from ingestion, and intestinal blockage could occur from swallowing large pieces of the plastic containers.

• Keep citronella candles, insect coils and tiki torch oil products out of reach. Ingestion can produce stomach irritation and possibly even central nervous system depression. If inhaled, the oils could cause aspiration pneumonia in pets.

Heat stroke

While fireworks get most of the attention on Independence Day, the danger from heat stroke is just as real, BluePearl said. Dogs have trouble cooling down on hot days because they don’t sweat as humans do. 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 to provide pets with shade, water and a way to get back inside.




Posted by Meghan Gunther-Haas

Meghan is the education reporter for the Pioneer and Herald Review. She can be reached at (231) 592-8382 or by email at

Leave a Reply