For pets, the rocket’s red glare and bombs bursting in air should stay safely in our national anthem. Most of our furry friends are somewhat nervous about, if not deathly afraid of, thunderous noises paired with bright lights. While we revel in the Fourth of July celebrations with family and friends, our pets are better off in the safety and comfort of home. All the things we love about this summer holiday—barbecues, fireworks, beach trips, and time spent with family and friends—can lead to trouble for cats and dogs. Keep your four-legged pal safe from harm during your Fourth festivities by following our tips.  

1: Reduce your pet’s fear

Even if this is your pet’s first Fourth of July celebration, you may have already picked up on her nervous behavior with loud noises, such as thunderstorms or construction. Prepare for fireworks season by asking us about reducing your pet’s fear. At our hospital, we have a variety of medications that can calm pets and ease their fear of booming noises. We recommend a trial period to see what works best for your pet before the big day, since each pet responds differently, and we may need to try different medications or combinations to reach the desired effect. In addition to medications, many calming products are available, including pheromones, supplements, and compression wraps. Many pets need a combination of therapies to lower their stress to a comfortable level. Keep in mind that fireworks aren’t reserved for the Fourth of July only, and may explode for several weeks before and after the holiday, requiring more frequent stress relief.

2: Ensure your pet has updated identification

If your pet digs under the fence or bolts through the door and gets lost, ensure you can be easily reunited. Ensure that her collar identification tag is legible, with your correct phone number, and that her microchip registration information is current.

3: Pack the picnic away from your pet

Questing noses will sniff out barbecued ribs, corn on the cob, and potato salad a block away. Keep party food well out of reach and avoid temptation, because pets who eat fatty meats or food they don’t usually eat can suffer from gastritis, with vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and lethargy, or succumb to pancreatitis. Ribs or corn on the cob can become obstructed and require emergency surgery. While we love to share special treats with our pets, stick with pet-friendly snacks, including fresh veggies and unseasoned, lean meat, such as plain, grilled, chicken-breast chunks.

4: Create a “bomb” shelter for your pet

Your pet may believe her world is exploding when she hears fireworks bursting overhead, so create a safe haven for her in your home. Pick the most soundproof room, place a cozy bed inside, and play white noise or soft, soothing music to help block out unwelcome sounds. Ideally, cover windows to shut out bright lights. Distract your pet with a long-lasting treat or food puzzle, or break out a new toy for the Fourth of July to help take her mind off the celebration outside.

5: Keep your pet out of the heat

Scorching summer weather can make any pet long for a nap over the air-conditioning vent. The following pets are more susceptible to heat exhaustion and heatstroke than others and should be watched closely outdoors:

  • Young or old pets
  • Overweight or obese pets
  • Long-haired and thick-coated pets
  • Pets with short muzzles and flat faces

Always provide plenty of fresh water, shade, and ventilation for pets when outside, and move them indoors if the temperature becomes too hot. Plan outdoor activities for cooler times, such as early morning or late evening.

6: Be your pet’s swimming buddy

Contrary to popular belief, not all pets can swim. Watch your pet closely if she wanders near your swimming pool or takes a dip in the ocean to ensure she does not get into trouble or ingest too much water. And, just like humans, dogs should wear life jackets while riding in boats. After a swimming session, rinse off the chlorine and other chemicals, or salt, from your pet’s fur.

Follow our tips for a safe and fun Fourth of July for pets and people alike. If you know your pet is not a fan of fireworks, we can help reduce firework-induced fear and anxiety. Schedule an appointment with our veterinary team to discuss what might work best to help reduce your pet’s fear so she will enjoy the holiday.