July Fourth is a time for backyard barbecues, fireworks, and celebrations with friends and family. However, this festive holiday isn’t quite as fun for your pet. Independence day can be a scary and dangerous time for your four-legged friend. Many pets are frightened by fireworks’ loud noises and bright lights, and the abundance of delicious foods can tempt a hungry pet to eat something they shouldn’t. You don’t have to cancel your July Fourth celebrations to protect your pet, but you should take precautions to ensure that your furry friend remains safe and secure during this holiday. Our Walnut Creek Veterinary Hospital team shares five tips for a pet-friendly July Fourth.

#1: Ensure your pet is microchipped

More pets go missing during July Fourth celebrations than at any other time of year. Fireworks displays’ deafening booms, explosions, and bright lights can send a frightened pet into a blind panic, causing them to dart out an open door, dig under a fence, or rip the leash from their owners’ hands. If your pet takes off when the fireworks begin, help ensure they can find their way back to you by outfitting your four-legged friend with a well-fitting collar that includes identification tags. Pets with identification have an increased chance of returning home. Microchips and collars with tags are the best forms of identification, but you must keep your contact information up-to-date. If your pet has not been microchipped, schedule an appointment with our team so we can perform this quick, painless procedure.

#2: Exercise your pet before the fireworks 

Before the day’s festivities begin, take your pet for a long walk or hike. Exercising your pet before the fireworks can help tire them out and reduce their energy level, making them less likely to become anxious or stressed during the fireworks. Exercise also helps your pet release pent-up energy or stress, making them feel more relaxed and calm.

#3: Keep your pet calm during the fireworks 

Have a plan to keep your pet safe and secure during the fireworks. To help keep your pet feel calm, follow these tips:

  • Consult your veterinarian — If you know your pet is extremely fearful of loud noises, consult with our Walnut Creek Veterinary Hospital team before July Fourth. Noise aversion can affect some pets so strongly that medication is the best way to prevent their reaction. Our team can help you decide if this option is right for your pet.
  • Keep your pet indoors — Ensure your pet remains inside during a fireworks display, and provide them with a safe space in a spare bedroom or bathroom. A cozy bed, a new toy, a food puzzle, and a long-lasting treat can distract them from the sounds outside.
  • Muffle the noise — Soothing music, a quiet television program, or white-noise tracks can muffle the frightening sounds outside.
  • Apply a compression vest — A compression vest, such as a ThunderShirt, applies pressure to calming points on your pet’s body, providing additional anxiety relief.
  • Spray or diffuse pheromones — Spray a calming pheromone on your pet’s collar or bedding, or place a pheromone diffuser in their safety room.

#4: Keep your pet cool outside

July Fourth is typically hot, and you must ensure your pet stays cool. Provide your four-legged friend with plenty of cool, fresh water and shade. In addition, to ensure your furry pal avoids becoming overheated, keep a close eye on them as you enjoy the day outside. Heat exhaustion can quickly develop into heatstroke, which can result in organ failure and death. Monitor your pet for early heatstroke signs and take action at the first hint of overheating. Heatstroke signs can include:

  • Excessive panting
  • Thick, ropy drool
  • Lethargy
  • Dizziness
  • Incoordination when walking
  • Bright red gums and tongue color
  • Collapse
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizure
  • Coma

If your pet begins to pant more heavily than normal, bring them inside and point a fan at their face. Ideally, ensure their body temperature remains lower than 103 degrees. If their temperature is higher, put your pet in the bathtub and run cool water over them to bring down their temperature, and contact our Walnut Creek Veterinary Hospital team.

#5: Avoid sharing food with your pet

While you may be tempted to toss your pet some goodies from your plate, many July Fourth cookout staples are too fatty and greasy for your furry friend and can be harmful to their health. To prevent injury or illness, give your pet their favorite treat or toy during mealtime rather than sharing your food with them. Contact our Walnut Creek Veterinary Hospital team or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center if your four-legged friend ingests any of the following pet-toxic foods:

  • Corncobs
  • Raw meats or bones
  • Alcoholic drinks or desserts
  • Raw yeast dough
  • Onions
  • Raisins
  • Grapes
  • Sugar-free foods
  • Chocolate

While you celebrate July Fourth, remember that your pet depends on you to help keep them safe. By following these tips, you can enjoy a safe and pet-friendly holiday. If you’d like to discuss whether anti-anxiety medication can help your pet cope with fireworks or to schedule their microchipping appointment, contact our Walnut Creek Veterinary Hospital team.