Top 10 Fourth of July Pet Safety Tips

The Fourth of July can be a great time to enjoy family. But one family member can find it a time of nervousness and anxiety — the family pet.

Fireworks can stress out pets and cause them to react in different ways, veterinarians say. As a result of the fireworks, animal hospitals see a 25% increase in patients on the holiday.

The biggest concern for pets is that they can be sound sensitive and fireworks send a shock to their system. The noise and chaos can cause them to lose control and even run away from home, veterinarians say. Some will bite because they are agitated.

If you include your pets at a 4th of July celebration, take safety precautions to ensure that your dog or cat is protected from some common maladies.

Perhaps you are considering staying at home and planning a get-together with friends and family. Or, you may want to go check out your local professional fireworks display. While putting the finishing touches on your planned celebration, take a moment to consider your pets.

Unlike people, pets don’t associate the noise, flashes, and burning smell of pyrotechnics with celebrations. Pets are terrified of fireworks, and often panic at the loud whizzes and bangs they produce.

Because of this, the American Humane Association reports that July 5 is the busiest day of the year for animal shelters. Why?

In a 2005 press release the Indiana Proactive Animal Welfare, Inc. (PAW) stated that animal shelters the day after Fourth of July are “inundated with pets that panicked at the noise of firecrackers and fled into the night, winding up lost, injured or killed.”

Both the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and PAW have listed ways you can prevent your holiday celebration from turning into a tragedy.

Here are 10 tips on how to keep your pet from panicking this Fourth of July weekend.

10. Keep Your Pet Indoors at All Times!

Pet noise phobia is an extreme fear of a sound and can cause our pets to act aggressively during a fearful event, such as ongoing fireworks. Pets can injure themselves while trying to escape or looking for a place to hide.

Signs to be aware of: 
  • hiding
  • trembling or shaking
  • sudden urination or defecation
  • pacing
  • chewing
  • digging
  • barking or howling 
  • an abnormal clinging behavior around the pet’s owner 
If your pet is left home on the 4th of July, reduce the noise level in your home by running a fan, playing the radio, or closing the windows and the doors to help block out any bothersome noise.

It may seem obvious, but even if your pet is used to being outside, the resulting panic caused by fireworks or other loud noises may make them break their restraint or jump a fence in a terrified attempt to find safety.

9. Pet Drowning

Many 4th of July parties may be held poolside, at the beach or on a lake, with dogs tagging along. Thousands of pets die in drowning incidents each year. These incidents are avoidable if safety measures are taken.
  • Don’t assume your pet knows how to swim; familiarize your pet with water from a young age.
  • Supervise pets at all times while they’re around a pool. Your pet should have an easy way to exit the water. Pet-safety ladders can be installed in most pools.
  • Never leave your dog unattended at the beach. Dogs can easily become overpowered by tides and currents and become pummeled by a wave.
  • If you're taking your dog on a boat, buy a life jacket made specifically for your four-legged companion. This simple but effective accessory can save your pet's life, whether on a boat or swimming in a pool, at the beach or a lake.

8. Alcoholic Drinks Poison Pets

If your pet drinks alcohol, they can become dangerously intoxicated, go into a coma, or in severe cases, die from respiratory failure. Yes, even beer is toxic; fermented hops and ethanol are poisonous to dogs and cats.

7. Going to a Fireworks Display? Leave Your Pet at Home

The safest place for your pet is at home, not in a crowded, unfamiliar and noisy place. The combination of too many people and loud fireworks will make your beloved pet freak out and desperately seek shelter. Locking them in the car is also not an option; your pet may suffer brain damage and heat stroke.

6. Have Your Pet Properly Identified

If your pet manages to break loose and become lost, without proper identification it will be that much harder to get them back. Consider fitting your pet with microchip identification, ID tags with their name and your phone number, or both. It is also a good idea to have a recent picture of your pets in case you have to put up signs.

4. NEVER Use Fireworks Around Pets

While lit fireworks can pose a danger to curious pets and potentially result in severe burns and/or trauma to the face and paws, even unused fireworks can be hazardous. Some fireworks contain potentially toxic substances such as arsenic, potassium nitrate, and other heavy metals.

3. Don’t Give Your Pet “Table Food”

If you are having a backyard barbecue, you may be tempted to slip some snacks to your pet. But like beer and chocolate, there are other festive foods that could harm your pet. A few toxic foods are onions, coffee, avocado, grapes & raisins, salt and yeast dough are all possible hazards for dogs and cats.

2. Lighter Fluid and Matches Are Harmful to Pets

The ASPCA lists chlorates as a harmful chemical substance found in some matches that, if ingested, can cause your pet difficulty in breathing, damage blood cells or even cause kidney disease. If exposed to lighter fluid, your pet may sustain skin irritation on contact, respiratory problems if inhaled, and gastric problems if ingested.

1. Citronella Insect Control Products Harm Pets, Too

Oils, candles, insect coils and other citronella-based repellents are irritating toxins to pets, according to the ASPCA. The result of inhalation can cause severe respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia, and ingestion can harm your pet’s nervous system.

The safest and best bet for celebrating this Fourth of July with your pets is to exclude them from holiday festivities, at least this time around.

Instead, find a safe, secure spot in the home for your pets while you go out and enjoy the loud bangs, bright lights and spectator fun. Your pets will appreciate the quiet a lot more than you’ll enjoy the noise.

The 4th of July can be a safe, fun celebration for all members of your family. If there’s an emergency, don’t wait to have your pet treated; locate a 24-hour veterinary clinic if your family veterinarian is not available. Keep the phone number handy.