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Updated July 1, 2021 As we throw steaks on the grill and ooh and ah at fireworks on the Fourth of July, it’s easy for us to forget our pets may not be as enthusiastic about the festivities as we are. Pets react in many ways when frightened by loud parties, sudden popping noises and flashing lights, including running away.

But you can help keep your pet safe and reduce stress by taking a few precautionary measures and, in cases of extreme anxiety, even helping your pet through the holiday with medications to calm frayed nerves.

  1. Keep your dogs and cats inside: A startled pet may bolt unexpectedly, and even their own backyard can feel scary when fireworks are going off. Restricting them to the house for a few critical hours is a small price to pay for their safety.
  2. Create a quiet, cool space: Stressed pets often overheat and a cooler space may be more comforting.
  3. Use distraction: Play soothing music or turn on the television for white noise to drown out exploding firecracker sounds. A favorite toy or treats also can reduce anxiety.
  4. Keep your pets away from windows: More than one veterinarian has seen a startled dog smash through a window.
  5. Don’t bring your dog to fireworks displays: Veterinarians recommend that you resist the urge to take pets to firework displays. Even if your dog isn’t afraid of loud sounds, fireworks may stress out and frighten your pet. Just don’t do it.
  6. Learn about available medications or other options for calming nervous pets before the big day: For some animals, medication can help decrease stress and calm a nervous pet. Non-pharmaceutical products, such as calming coats can be considered. Consult your veterinarian about medications and their side effects, as well as other strategies to help your pet.
  7. Update microchip and ID tag information: Make sure your pet’s microchip and ID tag information has your current contact information. It’s the best way to get your pet safely returned should they get startled and make a run for it.
  8. At July 4th parties, keep alcohol and marijuana products away from pets: Cats and dogs can become dangerously intoxicated, leading to severe health emergencies such as respiratory failure and even comas and death. Beer with fermented hops and ethanol is especially toxic to cats and dogs.  Marijuana poisoning in dogs and cats can be severe if not treated promptly.
  9. Avoid table scraps: Avoid the urge to feed your pets fatty barbeque scraps or foods intended for your people guests. Some food can cause upset stomachs and may even be toxic to your pet.
  10. Don’t forget the horses:  If there are fireworks in the area, depending on the temperament or routine of your animals, decide if it is best to have your horse remain in its stall or out in the pasture. Make sure fencing is secure and gates are firmly latched.

Bonus Tip: Consider taking off for the day and heading to a calmer place with your pet. Hike in the mountains (even if you head home, your pup will be pooped), stay at a quiet cabin, camp out on the prairie – there’s lots of other options besides sticking around for the fireworks!

Knowing your pets are safe and relaxed will help you enjoy your holiday celebrations. We hope you and your pet have a safe and happy Fourth of July!