Are you one of the many Americans planning a July Fourth party? Or, maybe you plan to take the whole family, including Fido, to your town’s block party and fireworks show. While humans are having a celebratory, patriotic time on Independence Day, pets can be exposed to dangerous hazards. The Homestead Animal Hospital team has compiled a do’s and don’ts list to help pet owners avoid these hazards and to help ensure your pet has a safe holiday this year.

Do: Discuss pet fireworks phobias with your veterinarian

Some pets, typically dogs, develop abnormally phobic responses to loud noise, with fireworks at the top of the trigger list, next to thunderstorms. Affected pets who hear the noise become inconsolably anxious and may hide, tremble, vocalize, pant, drool, or act inappropriately. The response becomes stronger each time the pet hears the trigger noise, which can lead to significant distress over time.

If your pet has reacted this way to noises in the past, consider speaking to our team about the many noise aversion treatments that will improve your pet’s quality of life. Medications are almost always necessary to prevent a panic response and ensure pets do not hurt themselves or your home. Providing a safe hiding place, playing soothing music, and providing pheromone sprays, anxiety wraps, or earmuffs may also help some pets.

Do: Secure pets indoors or in fenced areas

Pets who do not have noise phobias often become startled by sudden, loud noises, which causes many to panic and run away. If pets aren’t secured in a fenced yard or indoors, they can become one of the thousands of pets who go missing every July Fourth. Keep your pet inside during fireworks displays and ensure they have a quiet, cozy, relaxing space away from the chaos.

Do: Ensure pets have proper identification at all times

If the worst happens and your pet does get lost on July Fourth, they will need proper identification so that authorities can return them home. Collars and ID tags are helpful, but can sometimes fall off, but a microchip provides permanent identification. Our team can implant a chip under your pet’s skin in only a few seconds during an outpatient visit. Then, when a shelter, rescue, police station, or veterinary hospital finds your pet, they can scan the chip, obtain the chip number, and use that number to find your contact information.

Don’t: Take pets along to holiday events

People who enjoy taking pets to outdoor events, restaurants, and parks may want to bring pets to July Fourth events, but you should think twice. Remember, many dogs suffer from noise phobias that often are undiagnosed, while pets without noise fears can still become startled, lost, or injured. Let your pet stay home during these events, safe and sound in their secure, quiet, soothing space. 

Don’t: Share party food or drinks with pets

Hosting your own July Fourth party is a great way to enjoy the holiday with your pet, until the sun sets and everyone watches the fireworks show. While pets are outside intermingling with guests, keep all food and drink out of their reach, and promptly discard and remove trash. Many party foods and drinks are toxic to pets, including chocolate, grapes, alcohol, caffeine, garlic, and onions. Other foods or non-edible items (i.e., corn cobs) can lead to stomach upset, pancreatitis, or intestinal obstruction, which can all land your pet in the emergency hospital.

Don’t: Leave pets outside in the sun for too long

July is one of the hottest summer months, so take care that you do not get distracted during a gathering and leave your pet outside too long. Ensure you keep tabs on pets who prefer to be with guests or family members and that they have plenty of cool water and shade. Take them inside frequently to rest in the air conditioning before they return to play outside. Pay special attention to puppies, kittens, senior pets, and thick-coated, overweight, or brachycephalic (i.e., flat-faced) pets, who are more prone to heat stroke or heat stress.

You can enjoy your holiday this year by taking steps to prevent July Fourth safety hazards and ensure pets remain calm and collected indoors. Contact the Homestead Animal Hospital team to discuss prescriptions and methods for calming pets during fireworks shows or to schedule a routine wellness visit and checkup.