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Fourth of July Safety Tips

For many families, the Fourth of July is an exciting day full of celebrations. Even if you do not personally take part in the festivities, you will likely hear the booming of fireworks and gatherings from nearby parks, festivals, or stadiums. While you may be easily able to tune it out, your dog may not feel as at ease. Many dogs find loud noises, flashing lights, and crowds of people very frightening; fireworks booming in the distance may increase their stress level and require additional support. It is important to set your dog up for a successful, stress-free, safe holiday. 

While there are some dogs who will remain relaxed, calm, and not affected by loud noises, this is rare and should not be expected. When approaching the first holiday with your dog, use the guidance below and create a plan to set your dog up for success, regardless of how calm they seem to be on a daily basis.

Hosting a gathering 

If you are hosting a gathering, it may be helpful to keep your dog in a safe area, as there will likely be unsafe food dropped, people coming and going, and unpredictable events. See our resource on general Holiday Safety Tips for additional guidance on managing your dog while hosting gatherings and setting up a safe space for your dog. 

Do not bring your dog to firework displays

Even if your dog tolerates crowds or even appears to enjoy events, leave them home for the firework shows. Fireworks are extremely loud, and with a dog’s heightened sense of hearing, they will be even louder. They also create a physical vibration and are a nearly impossible concept for dogs to grasp, leading to extreme stress and confusion when they can’t comprehend what the threat is or where it’s coming from. There is no benefit to testing your dog’s tolerance of fireworks, as this is not a necessary skill for everyday life. Avoid the risk of traumatizing your dog by leaving them home in a safe space. 

Where to leave your dog 

There will be many times throughout your dog’s life where it will be helpful to confine them to a safe space where they can remain relaxed and comfortable away from activities. For example, if you are having work done on your home, hosting a large party, or when there are going to be loud fireworks. If you do not already have a safe space for your dog, create one ahead of time so that your dog is familiar and completely relaxed in their zone. Choose a dog-proofed spare room away from the main traffic of the home. Ensure all windows and doors are securely closed, as a startled pet can easily push through screens. A crate can also be used if your dog is comfortable and relaxed while inside.

Do not leave your dog in an outdoor enclosure or on a tie out. Even if your dog has an outdoor space that they use regularly, do not use it during fireworks. Some dogs become frantic when hearing loud noises and may hurt themselves trying to escape. Others will successfully escape an enclosure that usually contains them. Once loose, if the dog is frightened, they will likely run away attempting to get further and further from the noise. Instead, utilize an indoor safe space. The noise will also be slightly quieter inside with walls to block the sound. You can turn on a TV or radio, sound machine, and/or a fan to help mask the exterior noise. 

There are some dogs whose behavior is not impacted negatively by fireworks and you will be able to go about your business normally that day. However, even the calmest dog should be kept indoors during fireworks for safety.  

Staying with your animals 

If you don’t plan to attend any festivities, you can either take your dog on a car ride to a quieter place or hunker down at home. Since fireworks are predictable and only happen on holidays, planning ahead and taking a drive away from the noise allows you to avoid the stress.  

If choosing to stay home with your dog, providing them a safe space is still useful. Dogs who have been given a comforting spot to utilize throughout their life will seek it out in times of stress. You can help them settle by giving them access to their safe space and a high-value enrichment item. If your home has a basement, take your dog downstairs with you, put on music or a movie, and settle in to wait out the noise. 

Stress-relieving Products

Below are several products that benefit some dogs when showing signs of stress. The impact of each product is individual to each dog and their level of stress. The below products can provide a huge benefit to some dogs while others see very little behavior change with their dogs.  

  • ThunderShirt | A ThunderShirt is a tight-fitted “shirt” that provides gentle pressure across most of their body to reduce anxiety, like a swaddle for a baby. 
  • Adaptil Diffuser | This diffuser plugs in to your wall and provides a synthetic copy of a canine-appeasing pheromone and is a natural product proven to comfort both puppies and adult dogs. 
  • Rescue Remedy Pet | This homeopathic liquid supplement can help ease a dog’s stress or anxiety. As with any dietary supplement, please contact your veterinarian before beginning use. 

Microchips and ID tags

Microchipping your pet is one of the most sure-fire ways to ensure they come back to you if they ever do get lost or run off. This tiny, affordable chip can be implanted in mere seconds and is no more painful than a typical vaccine injection. The chip is not a tracking device but is merely loaded with your contact information. If your pet is ever found wandering alone, they’ll likely be brought to a veterinary office or an animal shelter where they will be scanned for a chip, providing your phone number so you can be quickly reached and reunited. 

You’ll also want to make sure your pet’s ID tags are up to date and securely attached to their collar since this allows any finder to get them back home on their own. Some families use Daylight Savings as a biannual reminder to perform important home safety tasks, like testing smoke detectors – add your pet’s ID tag and microchip to the list so you can verify that you haven’t moved, changed phone numbers, or updated your email since the last check-in.

Microchipping can occur during a routine visit to your vet's office or at one of our low-cost vaccine clinics.

Professional Help 

If your dog is showing signs of stress to the point of attempting to escape, shaking, drooling, pacing for a long period of time, or injuring themselves in any way,  contact your veterinarian and discuss the use of pharmaceuticals to help your dog handle the holiday. We also recommend working with a behavior professional one-on-one in conjunction with your vet to help support your dog.