Four ways Fourth of July fireworks can harm our pets

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(Photo courtesy of ASPCA)

NEW YORK, N.Y. – The Fourth of July is just a day away! While many of us may want to kick back and enjoy a firework show at the end of the day, it’s important to remember that, not only do they leave behind harmful chemicals, but the loud noises can be frightening to our furry friends. In order to keep your pets safe, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) has compiled this list of firework-related symptoms to look out for:  

  1. Fear and anxiety—To us, the lights, colors and sounds of a brilliant fireworks display are awe-inspiring, but for many pets, it can be a sensory overload. Some dogs and cats will have a fight-or-flight response to fireworks. This is a very real adrenaline rush, causing their blood pressure and heart rate to rise. Some pets can panic and cause injury to themselves while trying to escape, some may run away and some may react with aggression. It’s best for animals to be excluded from all fireworks celebration. They would much prefer to cuddle up with a favorite puzzle toy in a small, windowless room. 
  1. Gastrointestinal distress—Believe it or not, some dogs may eat fireworks. The most common problems that develop after ingestion of fireworks are vomiting and diarrhea. Some fireworks contain chemicals that can even be corrosive to the lining of the digestive tract. This is a painful condition that can result in bloody vomiting and diarrhea, serious dehydration and secondary infections.  
  1. Red blood cell dysfunction—When ingested, fireworks that contain chlorate salts can oxidize red blood cells which can quickly become a life-threatening condition. Animals with this condition will be lethargic with brown, gray or blue-colored gums. They will often breath rapidly and exhibit a fast heart rate. These symptoms can develop up to 10 hours after the ingestion of the fireworks. 
  1. Muscle and nerve dysfunction—Many commercially used fireworks and even some sparklers contain barium which can cause animals to become extremely weak and uncoordinated. Heart problems can also result. These fireworks are most dangerous after they have been used, so all remnants of fireworks should be picked up and discarded appropriately before any pets are allowed to roam the area. 

In order to keep your pets safe this holiday, keep any fireworks or sparkles out of paw’s reach and to avoid any anxiety, keep them in a small windowless room with soft music or white noise. Have a happy and safe Fourth of July! 

(Photo courtesy of ASPCA)