There is a lot to love about the Fourth of Julythe get-togethers, merriment, and fireworksbut those same things make it a scary and potentially dangerous day for pets. Pet owners can easily get caught up in holiday celebrations and forget to take extra steps to keep their pets safe and healthy. Whether you’re hosting a party or attending festivities away from home, avoid these five common mistakes and keep your furry family members safe and sound.

1: Failing to keep your pet secure

Pets who are scared of fireworks can be determined and desperate to get away. The safest place for your pet is in a crate or inside a secure room at an acceptable temperature, with access to clean water, and with a door kept closed. If you absolutely cannot keep your pet inside, carefully check the yard to ensure there is no way for them to get out. Scared animals can escape a yard thought to be secure by jumping over a fence or squeezing through a small space. Also, ensure your pet is microchipped and wearing a collar and tag with your up-to-date contact information to make it as easy as possible for you and your pet to be reunited if they run away.

2: Hosting a party without taking proper precautions

Having friends and family over for a barbecue and yard games is a treasured celebration at the beginning of summer. However, this can mean pets are left unsupervised around lots of tempting food and drink. So, familiarize yourself with foods that are toxic to dogs and cats, including:

  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Grapes
  • Raisins
  • Sugar-free items containing xylitol
  • Chocolate
  • Alcohol

Even foods such as ground beef, grilled chicken, or cheese that are not part of your pet’s regular diet but don’t make the toxic list, can still land them in the hospital with severe gastrointestinal upset if they eat too much. This danger, combined with the risk of escaping while people walk in and out of the house, makes keeping your pet in a secure location during the party the safest option. If you are concerned about something your pet ate, the Pet Poison Helpline and the ASPCA Animal Poison Control are available 24/7 to answer your questions.

3: Using fireworks, sparklers, and glow sticks at homeand not cleaning up

Home fireworks can be as much fun as the commercial displays, but you must always keep your pets inside in a secure room. The loud noise and bright lights often scare pets, who can become disoriented and act unpredictably, and they may get burned or run and get lost or hit by a car.

After the fireworks displays are over, the leftover debris poses a danger. Although cleaning up all the small debris from the festivities can be a challenge, many small fireworks contain toxins, such as arsenic, and can make pets and wildlife ill if ingested.

4: Failure to protect against mosquitoes

A July evening outside will inevitably include thirsty mosquitos, and we naturally slather on repellent to keep them at bay. However, insect repellent, including natural products, is unsafe for pets, who can inhale the chemicals or essential oils, lick them off people, or absorb them through the skin, and become sick. Keep pets away from citronella candles, too, as inhaling their ingredients can cause aspiration pneumonia. Tiki torch supplies, matches, lighter fluid, insect coils, DEET, and essential oils also contain deadly toxins for dogs and must be kept out of reach. To protect your pets from pesky warm-weather parasites, ask our team about appropriate flea, tick, and heartworm preventives.

5: Failure to check your yard before letting your pet outside

Many people don’t think to check their yard after a fireworks display, but even if you didn’t let off your own fireworks, debris, which can be toxic to pets if ingested, does travel, and could easily have fallen into your yard. In addition, even well-meaning partygoers may have left food scraps where your pet can reach, so ensure the yard is safe before you let pets outside.

The ASPCA records July fifth as the busiest day of the year for animal shelters. Whether you’re headed out for a large fireworks display, or hosting a get-together at home, consider your pet’s health and happiness and avoid these five mistakes so you can fully enjoy celebrating the day of our country’s birth.