Is there a more exciting time during summer than the Fourth of July? The celebration of the birth of our nation, the amazing parties and food, getting together with friends and family, and of course the spectacular show of fireworks. The Fourth of July is one of the best parts of the summer, but while the fireworks and celebrations are exciting and fun for us pet parents, they can be quite daunting and stressful for our pets. My animal hospital gets extremely crowded during the Fourth of July holiday. Most cases involve anxiety, upset belly or injury, but we also get many reports of lost pets.
Let’s talk about the best ways to prepare your pets for the Fourth of July holiday so that everyone can enjoy the celebrations and festivities. With these tips, you can avoid another trip to your veterinarian, and focus on the fun!
Fourth of July fear, anxiety and injuries
Many dogs are terrified by the loud sounds of fireworks. Dogs can show mild signs of stress like hiding and shaking, or more severe signs of stress like destruction, panting or causing harm to themselves. If your pet has a fear of fireworks, or any loud noises, make sure to be prepared.
Many terrified pets flee their homes when they hear fireworks in hope of finding safety, and end up sustaining injuries. Pets with severe anxiety of loud noises can cause harm to themselves. And many pets are treated for burns and other injuries from fireworks. Make sure to be prepared for the holiday. I strongly urge people not to take their pets to firework exhibits, even if you feel your dog will react normally.
The safest place for your dog is at home. Many times, the noise, people and commotion can lead to unpredictable behaviors. Make sure your dog has a safe and comfortable place to be during prime firework time. Ideally, try and keep your dog in an area he is familiar with, and where he cannot hear the fireworks. If you are hosting a party, make certain your guests are aware of the security at the front door and gates to ensure that your dog cannot escape. If possible, bring your dog to a place where the fireworks cannot be heard. Try a quiet, large indoor closet or somewhere near the center of your home away from the windows. Make sure your dog has his favorite attachment items with him such as toys or blankets. These items usually provide some support and comfort. The Thunder Jacket, a jacket that provides pressure to the whole body, has been shown to relieve some stress and anxiety giving dogs the feeling of support. Natural pheromones for dogs, used and labeled for stress and anxiety can be purchased over the counter and can help relieve minor anxiety and fear.
For dogs that exhibit more severe forms of anxiety, speak with your veterinarian about safe prescription medications to help control anxiety and stress. A stressed dog means a stressed pet parent! Please remember, it is important to never administer any medication without consulting with your veterinarian to make sure it is safe for your dog.
Fourth of July and upset bellies
Be careful when hosting parties and bringing your dog around a lot of people. The Fourth of July is a common time for upset stomachs, vomiting and diarrhea in dogs, caused by eating “people” foods. When hosting parties, many guests unknowingly, and with good intentions, give dogs different foods which can cause an upset stomach. In addition, stressful scenarios, such as fireworks, can cause gastrointestinal upset. Be prepared when hosting a party, or bringing your dog to a party. Kindly ask your guests and others not to feed your dog any foods. Make sure there is a safe and comforting place for your dog to go when the fireworks begin.
Fourth of July and lost pets
As discussed, pets become scared about the loud sounds of the fireworks and may run out of the home. This is a common time of year for me to see my clients asking for help with their lost pets. I always recommend having your dog microchipped for identification. The microchip is easily placed in your dog’s back and is registered using your home address, cell phone or any other relevant contact information. A veterinarian can simply scan your dog for a microchip to obtain the guardian’s contact information. I have returned so many lost pets with microchips to their loving homes!
Happy Fourth of July everyone! I hope you celebrate and enjoy with friends and family, but do so keeping the safety of your dog in mind. My goal is to always keep our pets safe and healthy. As much as I love seeing them walk through my animal hospital doors, I prefer to help you avoid “sick” trips to the veterinarian.