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Fourth of July Pet Safety: What Can My Dog or Cat Eat?

The Fourth of July can bring about mixed reactions for your pet. Many dogs love the gathering of their favorite people and the possibility of extra treats. However, the commotion and sudden burst of fireworks can leave some pets frozen with fear. 

As the Fourth of July approaches and tables full of festive foods appear, pet owners often wonder, “What can my dog or cat eat during these celebrations?” In this article, we’ll address some common Fourth of July foods your pet can enjoy and others they should avoid. 


Dogs everywhere salivate at the sights and smells of BBQ and picnics during the 4th of July. However, there are many common foods during this holiday your dog should avoid. Specifically for dogs, avoid the following foods:

  • High-fat foods like greasy burgers and hot dogs
  • Spicy foods
  • Fried foods
  • Bacon 
  • Cooked bones
  • Raw salmon

According to veterinarians, these foods pose various risks, including choking, intestinal obstruction, and pancreatitis.

Better food options for dogs include the following:

  • Fully cooked fish with no bones
  • Lean beef and poultry
  • Raw meat bones

What about plant-based options? It’s a good idea to be cautious with plant-based meat alternatives. Many contain highly processed ingredients and high levels of salt and sodium. 

These products were engineered with people in mind, not pets, and the ingredients can be harmful to your pet’s health in high quantities. 


Always avoid giving your pet alcoholic drinks. Alcoholic beverages can be toxic for pets and lead to alcohol poisoning. The best beverage to give your dog or cat is water. 

Dogs and cats can also enjoy unsweetened coconut juice and a little fruit juice. You don’t want to overdo this, however – the fruit juice should not have any added sugar and be sipped in small quantities due to its sugar content. 


When it comes to condiments, many are okay, but moderation is key. For example, dogs can eat pickles, but due to their high sodium content, they should be eaten sparingly. 

Ketchup and mustard are mostly harmless, but these condiments can have added sugar and other additives. For that reason, they should not be fed to dogs and cats, but a lick here and there is likely not to cause any serious concerns. 

Similarly for mayonnaise, small quantities likely won’t hurt, but due to the high fat content, it’s best not to feed it to your dog by the spoonful. Mayonnaise can also contain eggs which can spoil in hot weather and make your dog unwell. You should also be wary of an egg salad that has been sitting out for that reason.

BBQ sauce, a popular option during the Fourth, should be avoided. BBQ sauce sometimes contains high amounts of sugar, salt, garlic, and onions which can make your dog sick

Relish, which also sometimes contains high amounts of these ingredients, should be avoided. 

Side Dishes

Avoid any kind of mixed salad, such as potato, macaroni, or pasta salad. Many of these contain onions which can be toxic to dogs. Corn-on-the-cob, another favorite Fourth of July treat, should also be avoided. 


Sugar is considered a source of “empty” calories which give no nutritional benefit. Your dog doesn’t need or benefit from them and will probably enjoy a healthier treat just as much. Save the pies, ice cream, and cake for the humans, but if you do share a small spoonful of pie, ice cream, or cake with your dog, it will probably be harmless.

Be sure to never feed sugar-free or reduced sugar products, as these can contain xylitol, which is toxic to dogs. And, as always, never feed dogs anything that contains chocolate.

For cats, it’s important to avoid dairy products. Many cats are lactose intolerant, and ingesting dairy could cause digestive problems. That means no milkshakes or ice cream for your feline friend!

Other Foods to Avoid 

Several common celebratory foods can be toxic to your pets. Avoid feeding your cat and dog the following:

  • Chocolates
  • Coffee and anything containing caffeine
  • Baked beans
  • Grapes, raisins
  • Onions, garlic, and chives
  • Anything containing xylitol
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Other Fourth of July Pet Considerations

Beyond food, remember that fireworks can be stressful for pets. Ensure they have a quiet, secure space as far away from the noise as possible. If fireworks are truly traumatizing for your pet, you may want to inquire with your veterinarian about sedatives to keep them calm. 

It’s also crucial to provide plenty of fresh water, especially during summer celebrations. Hydration helps pets cope with the heat and any new foods.

Sudden changes in diet can cause stomach upset, so moderation is key. If your pet ingests anything toxic, contact a vet or pet poison control center immediately.

Lastly, each dog and cat has a different tolerance for certain foods. Be mindful of what your particular dog and cat can handle, and make sure guests at your picnic or party don’t feed your pets without your knowing. Those little bites and licks can quickly add up!

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