As July Fourth approaches, you may be looking forward to barbecues, parades, and festive fireworks displays. Although you enjoy these holiday traditions, your pet may find this day confusing, scary, and sometimes dangerous. Fireworks’ loud noises and bright lights, crowds of unfamiliar people, and sizzling temperatures all pose a threat to your pet. Follow our Columbia Pike Animal Hospital team’s July Fourth pet safety tips to help you ensure your four-legged friend is prepared for this summer holiday.

#1: Consider anti-anxiety medication for your pet

Some pets become so frightened by loud noises, they can cause harm to themselves or your home. If your pet’s noise aversion is unmanageable, ask your veterinarian for help. Anti-anxiety medications and supplements can help soothe your pet’s fear without sedating them.

#2: Exercise your pet early in the day 

Exercising your pet before the fireworks begin can help reduce their anxiety. A tired pet is less likely to be stressed or anxious during a fireworks display. To help them burn off some energy and feel calm, take your pet for an extended walk, or play fetch with them long before the fireworks begin. In addition, your pet may be afraid to go outside to eliminate during a fireworks display, so encourage them to take care of business before the ear-splitting booms begin, and prevent them from having an accident in the house 

#3: Leave your pet at home 

We strongly recommend that you leave your pet at home while you go to a fireworks show, as the loud noises and crowds can be overwhelming and stressful for your four-legged friend. Keep your pet inside your home in a safe and secure environment, because they may also try to escape your home or yard during a fireworks display. Keep your pet indoors, and minimize their exposure to the loud fireworks’ sounds and noisy crowds by creating a quiet and safe environment such as in a bathroom or small bedroom with few windows. Follow these tips:

  • Muffle the noise — Soothing music, a quiet television program, or white-noise tracks can muffle the scary sounds outside.
  • Use calming aids — Calming pheromones and a compression wrap or calming vest can be helpful in easing your pet’s fear.
  • Distract your pet — Interactive toys and long-lasting treats can distract your pet and reduce their anxiety during stressful times.

#4: Keep your pet safe at cookouts 

People enjoy cookouts, but these gatherings pose many potential hazards, such as a hot grill, toxic foods, and an unattended swimming pool, to your pet. To keep your pet safe during July Fourth cookouts, follow these tips:

  • Keep your pet away from the grill — A barbecue grill is hot and can seriously burn your pet. Erect a barrier around the grill, or leash your pet to prevent them from accidentally knocking over a hot grill.
  • Avoid sharing food with your pet — Many popular cookout foods are dangerous to pets and can lead to gastrointestinal (GI) inflammation, deadly toxicity, or a digestive system blockage that may require surgery. Do not feed your pet these common cookout foods:
    • Bones
    • Raw meats
    • Hot dogs
    • Garlic, onions, and chives 
    • Ketchup 
    • Corncobs
    • Chocolate 
    • Sugar-free foods
    • Alcoholic beverages
  • Practice pet pool safety — Not all pets instinctively know how to swim. Before letting your furry pal cool off in any body of water, ensure they can swim well. If your pet is not a good swimmer, dress them in a safety vest, or allow them to cool off in a wading pool with a few inches of water. No matter their swimming skill, always supervise your pet around water.

  • Keep your pet cool — Most July Fourth celebrations take place outdoors, and the summer heat can be difficult for your pet to handle. If your pet is outside, they are susceptible to heat exhaustion or heatstroke, which occurs when your pet’s body temperature rises higher than the normal 100- to 102.5-degree range. Prevent your pet from overheating by providing shade and cool, fresh water, and watch your four-legged friend for heatstroke signs, which may include:
    • Excessive drooling
    • Heavy panting
    • Weakness
    • Disorientation
    • Bright red tongue and gums
    • Collapsing
    • Vomiting
    • Diarrhea

At their first overheating sign (i.e., heavy panting), bring your pet indoors to cool off. Place a fan in front of them, or place them in a cool-water bath to help dissipate excess body heat. 

We hope you and your pet enjoy a safe and happy July Fourth. If you’d like to discuss anti-anxiety medication to help keep your pet calm while fireworks are booming, schedule an appointment with our Columbia Pike Animal Hospital team.