Barbeques, sunshine, and your best friends- nothing says summer time quite like a good Fourth of July celebration. Don’t let a preventable mishap ruin all the fun. Including your pets in your outdoor celebrations poses many risks, but that doesn’t mean they can’t partake in the activities! Here are some important tips to help keep your pets safe this Fourth of July.

Spending an afternoon in the sun is a dream come true for many pets, however, prolonged exposure to high temperatures puts animals at risk for overheating, known as a heatstroke. Dogs that are overweight, short-nosed, those with pre-existing respiratory or hormonal conditions, and those with dark or long-haired coats are at an increased risk. The best way to avoid heatstroke is to limit the time your pets spend outside. Allow them to play during the cooler parts of the day and make sure they have plenty of freshwater.

Whether your hosting a picnic or a backyard barbeque, most dogs will take advantage of your hospitality and try to sneak a bite from unattended plates or help clean up fallen scraps. Plus, let’s just admit it –  they’re so cute we can’t help but give them a few treats! It’s important to remember that some foods can be toxic to animals. High-fat foods such as desserts, cheese, or bacon, can lead to pancreatitis, which can be lethal. Corn on the cob is particularly dangerous for dogs, as it can cause an obstruction. Even the fermented hops and ethanol found in beer is poisonous to dogs and cats. With so many temptations, pets should be supervised at all times.

What would a Fourth of July celebration be without fireworks? While we enjoy the bright lights and sounds associated with fireworks, this is a source of stress for many pets. Animals who are frightened often panic, running out of the yard and becoming lost, making July 5th one of the busiest days of the year for animal shelters. Having your pet microchipped helps ensure they end up back at home. If your dog is crate trained, keep them crated, close the blinds and curtains, and turn on the television or soothing music to help block out noises. Help keep your pet’s mind occupied with a food puzzle or long-lasting treat. Dogs who are particularly anxious may benefit from anti-anxiety medications. Talk to your veterinarian about the best options for keeping your pets comfortable while you enjoy the celebration.