How to keep pets safe and calm during Fourth of July celebrations

The big summer holiday, Independence Day, the 4th of July, is upon us. We human Americans have been celebrating this holiday for over 200 years, but most pets are not fans of the loud noises and sudden, bright, explosions.

According to the NHSPCA , more pets go missing around the 4th of July holiday than any other time of year. Fireworks terrify animals, often causing them to panic and/or suffer severe noise anxiety. The American Humane Association reports that July 5th is the busiest day of the year for animal shelters. Some animal shelters the day after the holiday are “inundated with pets that panicked at the noise of firecrackers and fled into the night, winding up lost, injured, or killed”.

Protect your beloved pets from this fate by leaving them inside whenever firecrackers, bottle rockets, fireworks, or any other pyrotechnics are in use. Keeping pets indoors will not only protect them from running away, but it will protect them from serious, possibly fatal injuries from even simple things such as sparklers.

If your pet is near someone holding a sparkler their fur could easily and quickly catch on fire. Sparklers stay hot even after the sparking has stopped. states that 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.

Watch your pets for noise anxiety

According to experts, you should watch for the following symptoms of noise anxiety in your pets:

  • Shaking, Panting, Drooling
  • Hiding or Clinging to you
  • Barking
  • Yawning
  • Chewing and Licking
  • Attempted Escaping
  • Running or Pacing
  • Destructive Behavior
  • Indoor Urination or Defecation
  • Seizures

Help your pets relax

Try these suggestions to help your pets relax:

  • Stay calm yourself – try sitting still and relaxing in one area together.
  • Leave your dog’s crate or kennel open, covered with a blanket to create a dark “safe space”.
  • Turn on the TV or a sound machine in the room they are in to help mask the sudden noises.
  • Play an interactive and fun game with your pet to distract them.
  • Make sure cats are inside before the fireworks begin.
  • Give additional cuddles if your pet comes to you.
  • Make sure your dog has an opportunity to empty its bladder before the noise begins.

Other recommendations to help your pet relax, include aromatherapy such as lavender oil (Lavendula Augustifolia or Lavendula Officinalis) or a thunder shirt. Talk to your veterinarian ahead of time to see what other suggestions they might have.

You should never yell at or punish a pet for being afraid as this will only make their fear worse. Do not lock the pet in a different room away from you or in a crate – they could injure themselves attempting to escape to be with you, the person they feel safest with.

If you are heading out to see the fireworks, leave your pet with someone they know well and are comfortable with such as your professional pet sitter. Explain to that person what has worked to comfort the pet in the past.

As with any holiday, when family and friends are gathered together, make sure to keep visitors from feeding pets table scraps, and ensure that your pet can not get into any alcoholic beverages left on surfaces they can reach.

If your pet does run off be sure to call your local police department, animal control and the New Hampshire SPCA right away at (603) 772-2921.

Knowing that your beloved pet is safe will allow you to enjoy the celebration!

About the Author:
Karen Reilly-Brickett is a certified PetTech pet first aid/CPR instructor. She was also certified as an Emergency Medical Technician and kept that certification current for 30 years. For 25 years, Karen worked for the 911 ambulance service in the City of Newburyport, MA, first out in the field and then in the dispatch center where she became certified as an Emergency Medical Dispatcher. 

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