When preparing for the upcoming July Fourth holiday, don’t forget about your pet. Picnics, pyrotechnics, and pets don’t mix well, and the patriotic celebrations may harm your four-legged friend. Our team at Little Animal Hospital shares do’s and don’ts to ensure your pet stays safe during the festivities. 

DO leave your pet at home

Your home may be the best place for your pet to ensure they remain safe on July Fourth, because many pets find large crowds and noisy fireworks upsetting. Tips to keep them as comfortable and safe as possible include:

  • Bringing them inside — A frightened pet is unpredictable, and may jump out of your yard or dig under a fence to escape. Bring them inside before any parties or fireworks start, to ensure they don’t run away.
  • Creating a quiet zone — Create a quiet area in a small, interior room where your pet can seek comfort if they get overwhelmed. Provide treats and toys to make the space positive and familiar, and water, bedding, and a litter box if you plan to confine your pet to this area. 
  • Masking outside noises — Play the radio or television to muffle outside noises. 

DON’T neglect identifying your pet

July 5th is the busiest day for pet shelters across the United States, because many pets find ways to escape when scared by loud crowds or fireworks. To avoid losing your pet indefinitely, ensure they are properly identified, so they can be returned to you if they go missing. If a pet is microchipped, their unique identification number will appear when shelter staff scan their chip, allowing the employee to easily identify the pet’s owner. Microchipping is a relatively painless procedure that can easily be performed at your pet’s next wellness exam. Your pet should also  always wear a collar and tags with your current contact information.

DO keep your pet cool

Heatstroke is considered a veterinary emergency, and pets are at high risk, since they don’t sweat like humans. Normal pet body temperature is 101 to 102.5 degrees, and temperatures above 106 can cause widespread, life-threatening inflammation throughout your pet’s body. Signs include excessive panting, drooling, lethargy, diarrhea, seizures, and collapse. Tips to keep your pet from overheating include:

  • Never leave your pet in a parked car — Leaving your pet in an unattended car is never acceptable, especially on a warm day. Parking in the shade or cracking the window is not enough to mitigate the skyrocketing temperatures, and your pet could face deadly consequences.
  • Keep your pet hydrated — Bring water and a water bowl so your pet can drink frequently and remain hydrated.
  • Avoid strenuous exercise — The festivities may excite your pet, and they may overexert themselves, so keep them leashed and as calm as possible to prevent overheating. 
  • Keep your pet inside — Certain pets, such as senior pets, brachycephalic (i.e., flat-faced) breeds, and pets with certain health conditions, are especially susceptible to heatstroke, and should remain inside in the air conditioning to ensure they stay cool.

DON’T feed your pet party food

Your pet may beg and plead, but don’t succumb to giving them party food. Sudden changes to your pet’s diet can cause gastrointestinal upset, and some human foods pose specific dangers for pets. These include:

  • Fatty foods — Most party goers forsake their diet during July Fourth, and dishes are typically high in fat. These foods can trigger pancreatitis in pets, a painful, potentially life-threatening condition that causes severe inflammation and tissue damage.
  • Alcohol — Many party goers enjoy a spirited beverage on July Fourth. Pets also are attracted to sweet alcoholic beverages, and may drink from an abandoned cup. However, pets are extremely susceptible to alcohol. Signs include incoordination, depression, drooling, vomiting, and decreased respiratory rate.
  • Chocolate — Chocolate concoctions are often served as sweet holiday treats, but chocolate in any form is toxic to pets. Two chocolate ingredients, caffeine and theobromine, stimulate the pet’s central nervous system.

DO prepare your pet for the fireworks

Many pets have a noise aversion to fireworks, which causes them severe distress, similar to a panic attack in humans. If you know your pet is noise averse to fireworks, you can take the following steps to lessen their fear:

  • Play a recording — Find a fireworks recording that causes your pet to react.
  • Lower the volume — Lower the volume on the recording until your pet remains calm.
  • Provide a treat — Make the experience positive by feeding your pet, offering a high-value treat, or playing a game while the recording is playing.
  • Increase the volume — Incrementally increase the volume over several sessions to desensitize your pet to the noise. If they become afraid at any time, immediately lower the volume, finish that session, and start the next session at the safe level.
  • Practice for the event — Take your pet to a fireworks display, parking in an area that allows you to leave easily. Keep your radio on and your car windows up for the show’s start. If your pet remains calm, offer treats and praise, and turn off the radio. You can also lower the windows if your pet doesn’t seem upset. If your pet becomes anxious at any time, immediately leave the area.

DON’T let your pet suffer

If the above steps don’t help your pet’s noise aversion, contact our veterinary professionals at Little Animal Hospital, so we can determine if medication would help alleviate your pet’s stress and anxiety. 

Following these do’s and don’ts will help ensure your pet remains safe and happy this July Fourth. If you would like to discuss your pet’s noise aversion, contact our American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA)-accredited team at Little Animal Hospital. We will determine the best approach to help your noise-averse pet.