Keep Pets Safe from Firecrackers Hidden in Tennis Balls and Other Household Items

The Fourth of July is a dangerous time for pets. Backyard barbecues lead to dogs and cats eating all kinds of things that are bad for them. From the high fat ribs that cause pancreatitis to chocolate laden deserts, our feasts create a lot of problems when shared with our pets. Another common problem is injuries when animals try to escape the loud noises. The Fourth of July is one of the worst holidays for escaped pets. And now, there is a new danger to watch out for – firecrackers hidden in normal household items.

In 2000, a man found a tennis ball when walking his dog. He tossed it to his pet not knowing what was inside. When the dog bit the ball, it exploded. The dog suffered severe injuries and was euthanized immediately. People will remove the explosive material from firecrackers and place it inside other items to watch them explode. Beside tennis balls, other items include pipes and ping pong balls. Some of these homemade bombs explode prematurely, injuring the person who made them. Others, smolder for longer than expected before detonating. According to Jarod Kasner for the Kent, Washington Police Department, “People light them, leave them thinking it’s a dud, but who knows what’s happening on the inside. Then a dog comes and picks it up . . . .”

To keep you and your pet safe over the Fourth of July, stay away from abandoned items in public places. Before picking up an unfamiliar item including bottles, pipes and balls, look for burnt areas where someone may have tried to lite them. Also look for tape or a wick that might be used to set off the explosion. And leave the fireworks to the professionals to keep your home safe for everyone.


-Earl, Jennifer. ‘Dog owners warned about “tennis ball bombs” ahead of Fourth of July weekend.’ June 29,2016.

Published by kristennelsondvm

Dr. Kristen Nelson grew up on a farm in Watertown, Minn., where she developed a deep love for animals of all kinds. She received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine. Kris then completed a small-animal internship at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in New York City. In addition to writing and speaking, she cares for small and exotic animals in Scottsdale, Az. Dr. Nelson is widely quoted in the media. Her credits include Ladies’ Home Journal, USA TODAY, the Los Angeles Times and numerous radio and television interviews. Dr. Nelson has written two books, Coated With Fur: A Vet’s Life and Coated With Fur: A Blind Cat’s Love. Kris and her husband Steve share their home with rescued cats, birds and a dog.