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July 4th celebrations can be a stressful time for pets. Nearly 1 in 5 lost pets go missing after being frightened by loud noises, including fireworks.1 At the same time, dogs and cats can experience extreme anxiety even if kept safely indoors. Not to mention, the summer heat and other activities can be potentially dangerous to them.
Keeping your dog safe and using your best judgment when celebrating Independence Day this year can help you prevent them from getting lost. Keep reading to learn 4th of July safety tips for pets and how to keep your pet safe during the holiday celebration.
- How to Keep Your Pets Safe on July 4th
- Make Sure They're Microchipped
- Talk to Your Vet About Anxiety Ahead of Time
- Create a Sanctuary Space for Them
- Keep Toxic Food & Drink at a Distance
- Practice Water & Sun Safety
- Keep Pets Away From Flammable Objects
- Final Notes
How to Keep Your Pets Safe on July 4th
The 4th of July is a time to celebrate for humans, but it can be incredibly stressful for dogs and cats. In fact, animal control officials see a 30-60% increase in lost pets each year between July 4th and 6th.2 Parties, guests, and loud noises like fireworks can cause fear that might cause them to run away. At the same time, unhealthy foods, heat, and fire hazards can put them in harm's way.
Keep your pet happy, healthy, and protected this year by reading these pet safety tips for the 4th of July.
1. Make Sure They're Microchipped
The sound of fireworks and additional foot traffic around your home can be stressful enough to make dogs and cats want to run away. They don't know what those loud booming sounds are, and many dogs bolt away from their human companions every year during fireworks displays.
Making sure your pet has the proper identification by wearing their ID tags and being microchipped can help them be found if they get lost. A microchip can be scanned at a vet's office or shelter to help them track down the owner as quickly as possible.
Therefore, if you ever find a lost pet, the best thing you can do is take them to a vet to determine if they have a microchip if they don't have tags.
2. Talk to Your Vet About Anxiety Ahead of Time
Noise phobia is very common in both dogs and cats (up to 50% of dogs have noise sensitivity), and many pets experience extreme anxiety when they hear fireworks, even when they're inside.3 If your pet displays signs of anxiety during fireworks or thunderstorms, you can talk to your vet about how to treat dog anxiety. In many cases, vets will prescribe short-term anxiety medicine to help them stay calm during fireworks.
Cats can also experience anxiety. Your vet can help you treat cat anxiety at home with similar types of medication used for dogs. Reach out to your vet at least a week in advance to discuss possible anxiety treatments for your pet preceding the 4th of July.
However, it's important to keep in mind that many of these medications require a few hours before they begin working. In most cases, if you give your dog meds right as the fireworks begin, they won't be able to help much. Instead, ask your vet how long it takes for the medications to take effect to help you plan when to administer them to your pet.
You also shouldn't rely on anxiety medication to completely calm your dog. While medication will reduce some of your pet's anxiety, that doesn't mean it's safe for them to be outside, especially if they have extreme noise phobias.
3. Create a Sanctuary Space for Them
Creating a sanctuary space for your pet inside the home can give them a safe place to go when they feel stressed or scared. While you might want to spend the holiday with your pet, leaving them at home is usually best since being outside during fireworks displays can increase their anxiety.
Instead, keeping them inside your home can prevent them from escaping the yard or trying to run away when they hear the first fireworks go off. Even if your dog isn't afraid of loud noises, keeping them in the house is best because the holidays are often chaotic, especially if you have guests.
You can create a sanctuary space for them in any room, but a dark or windowless room is best. You can use a sound machine, television, music, or fan to block some of the noise of the fireworks. Add their favorite toys and blankets to make them feel more comfortable, and don't forget to check on them regularly or stay home with them to ensure they’re comfortable.
4. Keep Toxic Food & Drink at a Distance
Many families barbecue to celebrate the 4th of July. While it may be tempting to share a bite of your burger with your dog, you should never feed them table scraps of any kind. Fatty foods can be dangerous to pets, especially those with underlying health conditions.
At the same time, you should keep all desert foods and alcohol at a distance. Many desserts contain xylitol, a known poison to dogs and cats. Alcohol is also dangerous. Alcoholic drinks can potentially poison pets, causing respiratory failure and even death.4
If your dog or cat has a habit of jumping on the table to eat your food, keep them separate from it by using a baby gate or putting them in a crate or other room.
5. Practice Water & Sun Safety
Many people celebrate the 4th of July outside, lounging in the sun or swimming in the pool. Many dogs love to swim, and swimming can be a great way to keep your dog cool in the blistering summer heat. However, you should never leave your dog unattended while swimming, even if they're swimming in your own pool. Knowing water safety can prevent drowning risk and ensure your pet doesn't drink the pool, lake, or ocean water.
Some dogs are natural swimmers, while others have difficulty swimming, and the experience can be dangerous for them, so always exercise caution when allowing your dog to swim.
In addition to water safety, you should always practice sun safety with your dog. Your dog should never be left outside unattended for too long in the July heat because it can cause dehydration and heat exhaustion. Heatstroke can be fatal if your dog doesn't have access to shade or clean drinking water.
In addition, you should avoid times of day when the UV index is at its highest because dogs are susceptible to sunburns. The same is true if you have an outdoor cat.
You should also consider when you walk your dog on the 4th of July. It's a good idea to take your dog for a walk to let them relieve themselves before the fireworks begin, especially if they tend to last for a few hours. However, you shouldn't take them for a long walk on hot gravel because it can burn their paw pads. If you have to walk your dog during the hottest time of day, keep them on the grass and don't keep them outside for too long.
6. Keep Pets Away From Flammable Objects
Always keep pets away from flammable objects. Fireworks and sparklers are not only stressful for dogs, but they can burn them. Many cities have ordinances about the use of fireworks, so make sure to check your local laws before setting off your own fireworks display and potentially endangering yourself or your pet.
At the same time, if you're using a grill or fire pit, make sure your dog stays away from the flames. Dogs can get curious if they smell food cooking, so we recommend keeping them away from your grill if they're going to spend time outside.
How do you keep pets safe during fireworks?
Most 4th of July pet safety tips you read will discuss the potential dangers of fireworks. Not only are they dangerous to use, but they can startle your pet. Dogs have much more sensitive hearing than humans, so fireworks are much louder to them. This is why many dogs run away on the 4th of July — they get scared.
You should never use fireworks around your pet, especially if they're outside with you. Unfortunately, you can't control your neighbors or any events happening around the city. To prevent stress associated with the loud booming sound of fireworks, you can try to protect them from the noise and minimize their anxiety.
Keeping your dog in a comfortable space can ease their anxiety. Keeping the shades drawn and trying to cover up the noise of fireworks with a fan, television, or sound machine can also be soothing. You can use your pet's crate as their sanctuary space and cover it with a blanket, or you can put them in their favorite room, away from regular foot traffic.
Should I keep my outdoor cat inside on the 4th of July?
Yes, you should keep your outdoor cat inside on the 4th of July because this can be an anxiety-triggering occasion that makes them run away. Even if your cat enjoys spending time outdoors, they should always be kept inside on the 4th of July because the fireworks can cause serious stress, fear, and anxiety.
Again, we recommend creating a sanctuary space for them to block noise and light that can be disorienting.
How can I reduce my pet's anxiety on July 4th?
If your dog or cat experiences anxiety on the 4th of July, the best thing you can do for them is to talk to a Dutch vet. We can treat pet anxiety and noise phobias to make holidays less stressful for both you and your pet. Dutch's telemedicine for pets enables pet parents to get treatment for their pets' anxiety from the comfort of home, preventing the need to take anxious pets to the vet.
Talking to one of our vets can help us determine the right treatment options for your pet based on their needs. Together, we can find the best anxiety medication to help your dog or cat feel less anxious during the 4th of July and other stressful occasions.
The 4th of July is an exciting time for humans, but it can be stressful for our beloved pets. Understanding your pet's needs and taking the time to prevent stress can make them have a more enjoyable time. Talk to a Dutch vet if your dog or cat suffers from anxiety during fireworks and other events.
Our vets can determine the best anxiety treatment option based on your pet's needs, helping them feel more calm and comfortable during the 4th of July. Sign up to schedule your first appointment with a licensed vet.
“What If Your Pet Goes Missing during 4th of July Fireworks? There’s an App for That.” ASPCA, www.aspca.org/about-us/press-releases/what-if-your-pet-goes-missing-during-4th-july-fireworks-theres-app. Accessed 16 June 2023.
11, haliday August, et al. “Keeping Your Pets Safe on the 4th of July: Pet Amber Alert.” PetAmberAlert.Com | Lost Dogs, Lost Cats and Lost Pets Found in Minutes Thanks to a PetAmberAlert, 1 July 2015, petamberalert.com/blog/keeping-your-pets-safe-on-the-4th-of-july/.
Grigg, Emma K., et al. “Stress-Related Behaviors in Companion Dogs Exposed to Common Household Noises, and Owners’ Interpretations of Their Dogs’ Behaviors.” Frontiers, 18 Oct. 2021, www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fvets.2021.760845/full.
“Fourth of July Safety Tips.” ASPCA, www.aspca.org/pet-care/general-pet-care/fourth-july-safety-tips. Accessed 16 June 2023.