Happy-Not Harrowing-4th of July!



BANG! BOOM! CRASH! Happy 4th of July!

What to us are sounds of celebration, from firework explosions in the night-time sky, to fire crackers slamming against the ground, may be quite different and even horrifying to the ears of an animal. Well-meaning families often bring their four-legged friends to large crowded gatherings, pool parties, and picnics to enjoy our exhilarating Independence Day. Without preparations for a safe day for your pet, disaster could strike. Many dogs become frantic and nervous in these situations, sometimes even fleeing in fear. This causes a great spike in the number of lost/stray intakes at local animal shelters, where dogs sometimes never reunite with their owners. What can you do to keep your pet safe and sound this 4th? Here are some helpful recommendations:


  • Due to open gates and doors and loud, startling noises from fireworks, becoming lost is the top July 4th holiday hazard for pets. Keep your pet indoors while you are enjoying the fireworks show.
  • Keeping your dog inside with soothing music playing during fireworks can help him feel safe and secure.
  • If your dog is fearful of fireworks, speak with your vet for a recommendation for a mild sedative. Trembling, pacing, and heavy panting are all signs your dog is stressed.
  • For parties at home, keep your dog away from items like glow sticks and citronella candles, and busy with some special or favorite toys.

  • Keep your pooch away from forgotten plates of food and drinks. Alcohol, grapes and raisins, macadamia nuts, chocolate, and onions are especially dangerous.

  • For Fourth of July outings, plan ahead and bring a fresh supply of water and a doggie bowl.

  • Never leave your dog in a hot car.

  • Whether you are at home or away, make sure your pet is microchipped and wears an ID tag with a current phone number at all times. If you have moved or changed phone numbers since adopting your pet, verifying that the contact information registered with your pet’s microchip is up-to-date will help your pet get home faster if he should get lost.

I can remember my first Independence Day with my little Pomeranian, Romeo. Thinking it was a perfect opportunity to show off my sweet companion to friends, family, and other dogs, I popped him in the car and drove off to the nearest firework show. Not only was it horrendously crowded, as usual, but it was hot, humid and a bit bewildering for Romeo. This alone might have been stressful for him, but I had no idea what was in store when the first firework thundered in the sky above us! Suddenly, with a shrieking and shaking pup in my arms, I realized what a terrible mistake I had made. Minutes later, I was dashing into my car, frantic pooch in tow, wishing I had put more thought into his possible reaction to the earth-shattering sounds.

Romeo on Appalachian Trail

Romeo on The Appalachian Trail in VA, June 2012

Of course he couldn’t understand that these unexpected, intense sounds were to be enjoyed with transfixed “Ooos and Aaahs.” He just wanted to run in terror! Thankfully, he was fine by the time we got home and to the security of my bed, but I have never assumed he’d like to join me at a firework show since!

So, if you are not certain of your dog’s behavior in these types of festivities, consider having a back-up plan in case your pooch doesn’t handle it well!