Fireworks Poisoning in Dogs: Zoe Dies after Chewing up Used Sparklers

The loud noise of fireworks can be a source of severe stress for dogs. Indirectly, this can lead to death when a dog panics and runs away.

But did you know that fireworks can also poison your dog?

Fireworks Poisoning in Dogs: Zoe Dies after Chewing up Used Sparklers

Fireworks poisoning in dogs–have you ever heard about that?

Any big celebration brings stress and health risks to dogs such as

  • severe anxiety
  • foreign body obstructions
  • toxic or dangerous foods

After a night of fireworks displays, the environment is littered with spent fireworks. To us, these are an unwanted mess. To a dog, free toys or snacks. Fireworks and sparklers, though, can make a deadly snack.

Zoe was a year-and-half-old Pug. She was a beloved companion to her human family.

Zoe is no more.

When Zoe found debris from used sparklers, she tasted it and figured it was pretty good. Nobody knew what that happened. It is impossible to supervise a dog every minute of every hour of every day.

Later Zoe started throwing up, acting oddly and became unable to walk.

Zoe’s parents rushed her to a vet.

After running tests, the veterinarians contacted the poison control center.

With the help of the poison control center, they determine what was poisoning Zoe but it was too late. They tried pumping Zoe’s stomach but the poison has already overwhelmed her body. In spite of the intensive care she received, Zoe died early that afternoon.

Fireworks packaging features no poisoning warning.

At least the product that caused Zoe’s death did not–they checked it specifically. The packaging contains warnings to prevent burns and injuries but not a word about the toxic effects when ingested. Granted, not many adults are likely to taste-test these things. Pets, on the other hand, and children, can.

What makes sparklers toxic?

Fireworks contain dangerous chemicals such as potassium nitrate and heavy metals. These things are not for snacking.

Potential symptoms if your dog eats fireworks

Depending on the type of fireworks and the amount your dog ingests, the symptoms can include:

  • vomiting
  • bloody diarrhea
  • abdominal pain

If your dog ingests a large enough amount, they can suffer from the following:

  • seizures or tremors
  • jaundice (yellowing of the skin)
  • shallow breathing
  • weakness and uncoordinated movement
  • acute kidney failure and,
  • in unfortunate cases such as Zoe’s, death

Source: Pet Poison Helpline

Zoe’s parents shared their horrific experience to raise awareness. They hope to save other dogs from losing their lives over this little-know danger.

Zoe’s life ended prematurely

Don’t let this happen to your dog. Let it be Zoe’s legacy that no other dog ever dies to fireworks poisoning.

RIP, dear Zoe.

Read Zoe’s story here.

Common types of fireworks
Bottle rocketsGunpowder
Potassium nitrate
SparklersBarium dinitrate
Strontium carbonate
Potassium perchlorate
Snakes/Glow wormsPotassium nitrate
Strontium nitrate
Clinical signs by ingredient

Chlorates and barium are the ingredients that most commonly land dogs in veterinary hospitals. There is a difference between how unused or spent fireworks affect your dog. Spent display fireworks typically cause more severe issues. What makes spent fireworks more toxic is the spent ash.

Ingredients Signs
Barium saltssevere hypokalemia which results in:
excessive drooling
heart dysfunction
respiratory failure
cardiac shock
abnormal heart rate
destruction of red blood cells
acute kidney failure
and more
NitratesGI upset
Corrosive saltsoral or esophageal ulcers

For more information, see source: Today’s Veterinary Practice

Related articles:
When Is It an Emergency?

Further reading:
Pet Poison Helpline: Fireworks
Illuminating the Toxicity of Fireworks

Categories: Dog health advocacyDog toxinsFireworks Poisoning in Dogs: Zoe Dies after Chewing up Used SparklersReal-life Stories

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Jana Rade

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience.

  1. This is so sad! I never thought about poisoning from fireworks until reading from some dog bloggers a couple of years ago. If only people would clean up their mess!

  2. My heart goes out to Zoe’s family, what a terrible tragedy! I am surprised and disappointed that there isn’t a warning on the packages.

    • Mindboggling, isn’t it? Even if they don’t think about pets, a child could ingest that stuff too. They have warnings regarding the explosive hazards but nothing about the toxicity.

  3. That’s such a tragic story! If only the fireworks containers had warnings about ingestion – which they really should. Still, we always have to be vigilant about what our dogs pick up. But they like to be sneaky and swallow their finds before we can check it out. Thanks for getting the work out. I’ll share this too.

    • I’m amazing the packaging does not contain that warning. Though even if it did, doesn’t mean people won’t let the debris lying around in public and other places.

  4. Marjorie Dawson

    My heart breaks for her family. This stuff is lethal and we need to ban everything except maybe sponsored displays by authorities. I love sparklers but will be happy not to see them again if it saves lives.

  5. The environment can be quite littered with this stuff after bigger holidays. And it’s not something one would necessarily know to watch for.

  6. dachshundstation

    Poor Zoe. I’m so sorry for Zoe’s parents. That must have been awful. I’m glad that you are sharing Zoe’s Story to help us all to be aware of the dangers of fireworks.

  7. This is something I never thought about till I was doing some research for my infographic warning and it made me realize how much we never think about, great post and my thoughts go out to Zoe’s parents

  8. Poor Zoe, I can’t imagine how heartbroken her parents are. It’s true the packaging should have a warning, but if a dog is wandering off a leash we all know how tough it can be to keep an eye on what they’re getting into. Thank goodness I’ve never seen anything like that around me, but thanks for letting us know about the dangers.

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