Like many Americans, you may be planning a festive Memorial Day, complete with barbecue and fireworks. It’s important to remember, fireworks and dogs don’t mix.
Unlike people, dogs won’t associate the noise, flashes, and burning smell of pyrotechnics with a celebration. Fireworks will often cause panic and anxiety in dogs. Dogs panic at the sound of fireworks and flee into the night, often winding up lost, injured, or killed.
In order to prevent your celebration from turning into a tragedy, here are our top ten Memorial Day safety tips.
1. Keep your Pet Indoors at All Times
It may seem obvious, but even if your dog is used to being outside, the resulting anxiety caused by fireworks or other loud noises may cause him or her to break their restraint or jump a fence in a terrified attempt to find safety.
2. Use Pet-Friendly Insect Repellant
The same tip applies to applying “people” sunscreen on your pet. What isn’t toxic to humans can be toxic to animals. The ASPCA lists the poisonous effects of sunscreen on your pet as, “…drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst and lethargy.” Meanwhile, DEET, a common insecticide in products for humans, may cause neurological issues in dogs.
3. Don’t Give Dogs Alcohol
It may seem obvious, but alcohol is extremely dangerous to dogs. Just small amounts of alcohol can cause your dog become dangerously intoxicated, go into a coma, or in severe cases, die from respiratory failure. Yes, even beer is toxic; fermented hops and ethanol are poisonous to dogs (and cats).
4. Going to a Fireworks Display? Leave Your Pet at Home
The safest place for your dog is at home, not in a crowded, unfamiliar, and noisy place. The combination of too many people and loud fireworks will make your beloved pet freak out and desperately seek shelter. Locking him or her in the car is also not an option; your pet may suffer brain damage and heat stroke.
5. Have Your Dog Properly Identified
Without proper identification it is extremely difficult to retrieve a lost dog. Consider fitting your dog with microchip identification, ID tags with his or her name and your phone number, or both. It is also a good idea to have a recent picture of your dog in case you have to put up signs.
6. Keep Your Dog Away from Glow Jewelry
It might look cute, but your dog could chew up and swallow the plastic adornments. The ASPCA states that while not highly toxic, “excessive drooling and gastrointestinal irritation could still result from ingestions, and intestinal blockage could occur from swallowing large pieces of the plastic containers.”
7. Don’t Use Fireworks Near Dogs
While lit fireworks can pose a danger to curious dogs and potentially result in severe burns and/or trauma to the face and paws, even unused fireworks can be hazardous. Some fireworks contain potentially toxic substances such as arsenic, potassium nitrate, and other heavy metals.
8. Don’t Give Your Dog ‘Table Food’
If you are having a backyard barbecue, you may be tempted to slip some snacks to your dog. But like beer and chocolate, there are other festive foods that could harm your pet. Onions, coffee, avocado, grapes and raisins, salt, and yeast dough are all possible hazards for dogs (and cats).
9. Lighter Fluid and Matches Are Harmful to Dogs
The ASPCA lists chlorates as a harmful chemical substance found in some matches that, if ingested, can cause your dog difficulty in breathing, damage to blood cells, or even cause kidney disease. If exposed to lighter fluid, your pet may sustain skin irritation on contact, respiratory problems if inhaled, and gastric problems if ingested.
10. Don’t Use Citronella Insect Control Products
Oils, candles, insect coils, and other citronella-based repellants are irritating toxins to dogs, according to the ASPCA. The result of inhalation can cause severe respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia, and ingestion can harm your pet’s nervous system.
The safest and best bet for celebrating this Memorial Day with your dogs is to exclude them from festivities, at least this time around. Instead, find a safe, secure spot in the home for your dog while you go out and enjoy the loud bangs, bright lights, and spectator fun. Your dog will appreciate the quiet a lot more than you’ll enjoy the noise.