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How to Keep Your Dog Safe on the Fourth of July

Independence Day is one of the most stressful and potentially dangerous times of the year for pets.

 |  Jul 1st 2014  |   5 Contributions


As much as I would love to share the oohs and aahs of the Independence Day fireworks display with my dogs Charlie and Tucker, they would be much happier and safer hanging back at home. Of course they’ll partake in the backyard picnic early in the day, but when it comes time for the fireworks, I’ll put them in their happy places. Charlie will go in his crate -- he loves his crate, especially when he has a peanut-butter-stuffed Kong waiting for him! Tucker will hang out in the bedroom, sprawled out on the bed watching his favorite: reruns of Lassie.

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My dog Tucker is ready for the weekend's celebrations. (Photo courtesy Kim Salerno)

The Fourth of July is one of the most stressful and potentially dangerous times of the year for pets. While you and your family, friends, and neighbors are celebrating the holiday with fireworks, pets are finding these festive activities anything but celebratory.

If pets are left outside and unattended, the noise and raucous often drives them to run away. In fact, the July 4 holiday is a very busy time for animal shelters across the U.S. They report taking in a higher number of dogs, who run off during firework festivities. In addition, many police stations log higher volumes of stray dog calls and barking complaints on July 4 compared to any other day of the year. 

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Tucker catches up on some "Lassie" reruns. (Photo courtesy Kim Salerno)

By planning ahead and taking some common sense precautions, you can help ensure your pet is happy and safe this Fourth of July.

1. Do not take your pet to fireworks displays

Many pet parents assume that if their pet is not afraid of thunder or other loud noises, they will not be bothered by fireworks. This is not necessarily true. Even pets who normally are not bothered by these things are often frightened and panicked by the cumulative effects of the fireworks, the excited voices outside, and being left alone inside the house.

2. Do not leave your pet alone in the car

With only hot air to breathe inside a car, your pet can suffer serious health effects even death in a very short time. Partially opened windows do not provide sufficient air, but they do provide an opportunity for your pet to be stolen. However, if your pet is most comfortable in the car, some pet parents find that driving around with their pet in the car helps to calm their pet during fireworks shows. 

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Skip the fireworks and stay home (but bring your dog inside). Dog celebrates 4th of July by Shutterstock

3. Keep your pets in your home in a comfortable and quiet area with the shades drawn

If your dog is crate trained, then her crate is a great choice. Some animals can become destructive when frightened, so be sure that you've removed any items that your pet could destroy or that would be harmful to your pet if chewed. Leave a television or radio playing at normal volume to keep your pet company while you're attending Fourth of July picnics, parades, and other celebrations.

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If your pets seek comfort in a bathtub, under a bed or other small space, let them. Do not try to lure them out. If the space is safe and it makes them feel more secure, let them be.

Never leave pets outside unattended, even in a fenced yard or on a chain. In their fear, pets who normally wouldn't leave the yard may escape and become lost, or become entangled in their chain, risking injury or death.

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Tucker, Charlie, and I are looking forward to a safe 4th of July weekend. (Photo courtesy Kim Salerno)

4. Make sure your dog has ID

Make sure your pets are wearing identification tags so that if they do become lost, they can be returned promptly. Animals found running at large should be taken to the local animal shelter, where they will have the best chance of being reunited with their owners. 

If you know that your pet is seriously distressed by loud noises like thunder, consult with your veterinarian before July 4 for ways to help alleviate the fear and anxiety he or she will experience during fireworks displays. 

Here's to you and your pet having a happy and safe Independence Day!

How do your dogs handle the Fourth? Do you have any tips for others? Let us know in the comments!

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About the Author: Kim Salerno is the President & Founder of TripsWithPets.com.  She founded the pet travel site in 2003 and is an expert in the field of pet travel. Her popular web site features pet friendly hotels & accommodations across the US and Canada, along with other helpful pet travel resources.  Her mission is to ensure that pets are welcome, happy, and safe in their travels.

About TripsWithPets.com: TripsWithPets.com is the No. 1 online resource for pet travel. Named best pet travel site by Consumer Reports, TripsWithPets.com's mission is to offer resources that ensure pets are welcome, happy, and safe while traveling. The website features a directory of pet friendly hotels and accommodations across the United States and Canada, as well as airline and car rental pet policies; pet friendly restaurants, beaches, and events; a user-friendly route search option; pet travel tips; pet travel supplies; and other pet travel resources.

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