Independence Day is known for sun and fun — barbeques, pool parties, and fireworks. But did you know that the 4th of July is a really scary holiday for pets? In fact, more pets go missing on the Fourth of July than any other day of the year! That is because the loud, overwhelming noises and unfamiliar surrounding can be terrifying for dogs and cats.
Here are some safety tips to help you and furry friends to have a happy and safe holiday.
Preparation and Prevention
The best first step to a happy holiday is to be prepared. Fireworks might be fun for you, but the loud noises are terrifying for many animals, especially dogs. While you are celebrating, chances are your dog is panicking.
Be sure that your pets are microchipped and that your contact information is up to date. Make sure your dog is wearing identification information. It is also a good idea to have a current picture of your dog with you. (This should be easy since we know that just like us you all have 500 pix of your pets on your phone!)
If you have an indoor/outdoor cat, make sure that they are chipped and are wearing a break-away collar with identification. Better, yet, keep cats inside on and around Independence Day for their own safety.
When letting your dogs out, be sure that your yard is fenced securely and/or that your animal has on a proper harness and leash. When frightened, the “fight or flight” instinct takes over, and many dogs take off, attempting to run to safety. Never leave dogs outside unattended, even in a fenced area.
If your pet does go missing, don’t panic. Follow some simple steps to help get him or her home safe. Lost Dogs of America has multiple resources devoted specifically to Fourth of July.
If you plan to attend some cookouts or parties on the Fourth, it might be a good idea to leave Fido or Fluffy at home. As mentioned above, unfamiliar surroundings, lots of new people, and loud noises can be super scary even for otherwise calm dogs.
Plus, there will be plenty of food and snacks around. While we all want to spoil our pups, too much of a good thing is a bad thing. Too many treats and table scraps (often from well-meaning friends and family) can lead to an upset stomach and diarrhea. And, many common foods are actually toxic to animals. And, many common foods are actually toxic to animals.].
With so much going on, it can be tough to keep a constant eye on your pooch, which is why sometimes dogs simply wander off. If you have a chill dog who does well at parties, be sure to keep a close eye on them at all times, ensure they have access to fresh water and shade, keep them securely leashed, and make sure they don’t get too many treats!
If you do leave your dog(s) at home, make sure that they are safe and comfortable. Be sure they have plenty of fresh water and AC or fans to keep them cool. Nervous dogs pant and pace so they need be kept well hydrated.
Consider leaving the TV or music on to help drown out the scary noises outside. Many people find success with crating their dogs or confining them to a safe, escape-proof room. Be sure your pup has access to their favorite bed or cozy spot. For example, one of my dogs finds solace under our bed, so we let him “hide” there where he is most comfortable when he gets nervous.
There are plenty of herbal calming treats available with natural ingredients such as chamomile and lavender that can help dogs relax during scary times. In extreme cases, talk to your veterinarian about medication or holistic treatment options to help keep your dog or cat calm over the holiday season.
Compression vests, such as the Thundershirt or similar, can also be very helpful for calming anxious or fearful dogs.
Make Your Own Fun
If you have an animal who is especially terrified of firework festivities, consider staying home with your furry friend.
As the saying goes, a tired dog is a good dog, so plan ahead. During the day, take your dog for a nice long walk, go to the park, or have a playdate. Letting your dog(s) run around, play, and romp during the day is a great way to ensure they will be tired later on.
As the evening approaches, make sure your dog eats dinner and uses the bathroom before the fireworks and festivities begin. If you plan to administer calming medication or treats to your pets, always follow instructions and allow time for them to kick in.
Be sure to keep windows closed (especially if you leave your pooch home alone) since open windows let in more noise and insect screens will NOT contain your pet. Dogs and cats can easily escape from open windows. Turn up the TV or soothing music and snuggle on the couch with your favorite buddy and let them know they are safe.
Although Independence Day is technically only one day a year, people tend to celebrate for a week or so before and after. So be sure that you are adequately prepared to keep your dogs and cats happy and safe during this holiday season.