The 4th of July is a dangerous time for pets, so here’s how to keep them safe

Daryl Lindsey
The 4th of July is a dangerous time for pets, so here’s how to keep them safe

In the United States, the 4th of July is a euphoric holiday filled with pool parties, barbecues, and all things Americana. While this is basically a dream-come-true for most humans, July 4th can be an unsafe nightmare for your pets if you’re not careful.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, the 4th of July is a dangerous time of year for pets.

“Noisy fireworks and other celebrations can startle animals and cause them to run away; holiday foods can be unhealthy; summer heat and travel can be dangerous; and potentially dangerous debris can end up lying on the ground where pets can eat or play with it,” they write.

The days after Independence Day are actually the busiest time of year for animal shelters because of escaped pets. In fact, the Humane Society of Utah reported that Utah shelters receive 30 percent more dogs on July 5th than any other day of the year. According to spokesperson Callista Pearson, only 32 to 35 percent of dogs who wind up in shelters around July 4th are returned to their owner.

“We expect to see a flood of dogs available [leading up to the 4th], in the shelter for no other reason that they were terrified,” Jodi Monaco, a volunteer with the animal foster organization Rescue Rovers told KUTV.

With this (and the other holiday risks) in mind, it’s imperative that responsible dog owners take steps to keep their pets safe on July 4th. Here are our tips:

1. Keep your pets at home.

Experts at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals recommend taking extra care to keep track of your pets during July 4th activities. If you’re heading to a party or event, leave your pet at home as the noise, people, and fireworks could be stressful for them. Consider keeping them in an escape-proof room or crate during this time, since frightened pets can be extra motivated to escape fenced yards.

Should your pet escape, it’s important that they’re wearing tags and are microchipped, so that shelters or veterinarians can return them to you.

“Many times when a dog is scared, their collar will get stuck on something and fall off. A microchip can’t fall off,” Pearson said.

2. If you’re traveling without your pet, hire supervision.

If you’re headed to the beach, lake, or anywhere else for Independence Day, know that July 4th is a stressful day for pets to be alone. Even if you typically trust your pet alone for extended periods, the same might not apply on July 4th.

Pearson explained that shelters typically wait three to five days to put a dog up for adoption after it is brought to a shelter.

“If you’re on vacation, your pet could be adopted out or euthanized by the time you get back,” she warned.

When in doubt, make sure there’s someone to watch your pet while you’re away to prevent this.

3. Distract anxious pets.

If you know your pet has a hard time coping with fireworks, take extra steps to distract your pet with things like music, toys, or a kong stuffed with something tasty, advises Pets for Patriots.

“Create a safe haven for them at home. Turn on a radio, TV or stereo to distract them from any outside revelry (many folks swear by  classical music and  Animal Planet). And be sure all windows are secured so that your pet can’t escape if it gets startled,” they advise.

Or, you can always let them watch dog videos with headphones.

4. Keep ’em cool.

If your pup or kitty is going to be outside with you on July 4th, remember that hot weather can be dangerous for pets, who can’t maintain body temperatures the way humans can.

“Keep them inside when it’s extremely hot/humid, make sure they have access to shady spots and plenty of water when outdoors; don’t leave them outside for extended periods in hot weather; and know the  signs that a pet may be overheating,” The AVMA instructs.

5. Watch what they eat!

With Independence Day comes all sorts of curious new smells for your pets: Not just hot dogs and hamburgers, but also sunscreen, bug spray, lighter fluid, citronella candles, and any other number of things. Be extra careful with what your pet has the opportunity to munch on, so they don’t get ahold of any harmful substances. Resist the urge to offer them your celebratory human food, no matter how cute they look.

“Any change, even for one meal, can give your pet severe indigestion and diarrhea. This is particularly true for older animals who have more delicate digestive systems and nutritional requirements,” explained the ASPCA.

We hope you (and your furry friends!) have a safe and happy 4th of July!