The 4th of July, America’s Independence Day, is a time for summer fun, BBQs, and of course, fireworks. But not all of that is as fun for your pets as it is for you. So we’ve made a list of do’s and don’ts to help in keeping your pets safe during July 4th gatherings and get togethers.

Do offer a quiet place for pets during the festivities.

Whether that be a quiet room for your cats to get away from guests coming in and out of the house, or making sure your dog has easy access to his crate (consider covering it partially with a blanket or towel for added privacy), it’s important that your pets feel safe and secure regardless of whether you’re having people over, or just need to provide them solace from neighbor’s parties, or the evening’s fireworks.

Don’t expect your pets to enjoy fireworks as much as you do.

Fireworks are a source of high stress for both cats and many dogs. Cats can be sensitive to sound, so making sure they are inside, safely away from the noise is important. Give them their favorite bed or toy to help them feel secure while the noise is going on outside. Unless your cat is deaf, and loves to watch the fireworks from the safety of inside on the windowsill (like my one cat does!), make sure that they have somewhere to go inside the house that is their usual, comfortable space. Stressed, scared kitties are more likely to try to make a break for it in panic, and once outside, trying to find them during or after fireworks is both hard and scary for you and your pet.

Dogs can be trickier, as some don’t mind the fireworks (my husky isn’t bothered at all), while others get extremely agitated (my Jack Russell / ACD mix is terrified). If you do have a dog that is scared, the best option is to put your dog in their crate with their favorite toys so that they feel secure. Sometimes, things like Bach’s Rescue Remedy or a Thundershirt can be a huge help to keep your dog calm. However, at other times, more help is needed and tranquilizers and anti-anxiety meds can be a benefit for more anxious dogs. Talk to your vet to determine what is right for your pet before the fireworks begin!

Do make sure your pets are microchipped.

Did you know that more pets get lost on July 4th weekend than any other weekend of the year. Microchipping is a safe, affordable way to make sure your pets are protected in case something goes wrong during the celebrations. Dogs can get off leash, cats can slip out a door, or just about anything can go wrong. By taking the steps above, you can minimize that risk, and if something does happen that your dog gets loose, having your pet microchipped helps them find their way back to you, sooner, and safer than just relying on a collar and ID tags alone.

When camping with my dogs, fireworks went off and my husky didn’t mind at all. But my little dog was so scared he blindly ran and got off leash. Once he entered panic mode, he ran and ran and ran until he found somewhere to hide under a camper at the far end of the campgrounds. Fortunately, the nice people saw him and he quite happily hopped in their golf cart after the fireworks ended and hitched a ride back to where we were camping. But we were lucky – fortunately he is also microchipped, and I travel with a portable crate so that when night falls, he’s in our camper, in his crate, safely away from the commotion.

Don’t share the BBQ!

Of all of our do’s and don’ts, this tends to be the hardest one for people to follow. It seems with fireworks and all of the commotion that holiday celebrations bring, most people understand the importance of providing a safe, quiet, environment for their pets. But when it comes to telling those adorable beggars, “no,” that seems to be a whole lot harder.

Keeping your pet from partaking in the BBQ food is better for them – and you! BBQ foods are often fatty, seasoned with sauces and spices, and bones from the grill can pose a danger to even the best beggar you know. It’s important to keep your dogs (and cats!) well fed with their own food, to prevent the many issues that can come when they get too many table and BBQ scraps. Many foods and spices can be irritable to their tummies, bones can splinter and break or get lodged in their throats or guts, and complications can result in emergency visits – or even surgery – at your vet’s office. So keep your pets away from the BBQ and the garbage both during and after the party!

Did you know? More pets go missing on July 4th than any other day of the year. Check out even more great tips to keep your pets safe, below.

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And remember, if you have an especially anxious or stressful cat or dog, schedule an appointment with us to talk about options to help your pet come through the holiday safe and sound.

Happy Independence Day to you and your pets, from all of us here at the Animal Hospital of Sussex County!