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Secrets to a Successful 4th of July With Your Pets

While the 4th of July is fun and enjoyable for humans, this holiday is anything but for pets! The common components of July 4th - big crowds, loud fireworks, busy streets - can all be very stressful triggers for pets.

In this blog post we outline several things you can do to support your pet through 4th of July celebrations to keep them safe and comfortable! Implementing these accommodations and staying mindful about how the events of this holiday may impact your pet will help ensure a low stress experience for them.

How to Have A Successful 4th of July With Your Pets

Ensure Your Pet's Microchip Is Updated

Frightened by fireworks and other holiday events, more pets run away and become lost on July 4th than any other day of the year. As part of your holiday preparations, make sure the contact information associated with your pet's microchip is current. Unlike collars and ID tags, microchips cannot fall off and are very successful in reuniting countless pets with their families - but this is only possible if the contact information linked with the microchip leads back to you! If your pet is not already microchipped, schedule a microchipping appointment now!

Leave Your Pets At Home

While it may be tempting to include your pet in your holiday celebrations, it's the case for most pets that they will be happiest and safest if left out of the party. Pets that are brought into overwhelming and unfamiliar environments may become frightened, leading them to back out of harnesses/collars, escape backyard enclosures or present with fear-based aggressive behaviors. It's best to keep your pet in a secure, familiar environment protected from the chaos of celebrations rather than immersing them into large crowds full of unfamiliar things.

Create a Safe Place

It can be helpful to setup a 'safe space' within your home that will act as your pet's comforting home base during celebrations. If you are hosting a gathering at your home, it may be a good idea to keep your pet confined within this safe space while guests are present. Things to consider when creating a safe space for your pet:

  • it should be a quiet space away from high foot-trafficked areas

  • include background noise such as TV or music

  • any windows or glass doors in this space should be closed and the blinds should be drawn

  • provide your pet plenty of self-entertaining activities in this space. The type of activities you provide will depend on what your pet likes to do. For ideas, click here to access a comprehensive enrichment guide

  • spray or diffuse calming pheromones within the space. If you haven't heard of calming pheromones, click here to learn more

Reduce Sound

One of the most stressful components of July 4th for our pets is the intense sounds created by all the firework displays. Muffling this noise is one of the best ways to reduce your pet's stress during the 4th. Ways to reduce July 4th noise for your pets include:

  • keep all the windows and doors closed

  • draw curtains and blinds

  • keep background noise on - tv, music, white noise machine

Consider Anti-Anxiety Medications

For some pets who have severe sound phobia, situational anti-anxiety medications can be extremely helpful in controlling stress levels during trigger events like firework displays. These medications are given orally and last for a short time (about 12 hours). Call our office to discuss whether these medications may be right for your pet!

Calming Supplements

In addition to anti-anxiety medications, there are also several stress-reducing nutraceutical options available to aid in your pet's relaxation. These products use a combination of naturally occurring, stress-reducing vitamins and amino acids to promote relaxation, and they come in several forms, including liquid, treats and powder! Call our office to discuss what calming nutraceutical may be right for your pet!

Offer Calming Pheromones

Pheromones are natural chemicals that our pets release into their environment in order to communicate with one another. These 'scent messages' are odorless to people yet powerful for our pets.

Both dogs and cats alike have a particular pheromone geared specifically towards relaxation that conveys messages of happiness and security to members of the same species who encounter it. Commercial calming pheromone products are synthetic versions of these natural 'happy messages' and they have a profound effect on nervous, fearful or stressed pets.

Calming pheromone products are available in several forms including a wearable collar, a room diffuser and a spray. Visit our in-home delivery service to purchase your pet pheromones for July 4th!

Be Aware of Pet Dangers

If Fido does end up joining the party, be aware of the many dangers July 4th gatherings can present for pets including:

Glow Sticks: Glow sticks are a common party favor that are very unsafe for pets and unfortunately resemble chew toys. Be sure to keep glow sticks out of reach from your pets!

People Food: There are many common cookout foods that are toxic or dangerous for pets including grapes, raisins, onions, garlic, corn cobs, fatty meats, xylitol-containing snacks and alcohol. When in doubt, it's best to avoid feeding people food to your pets. Instead, bring plenty of your pet's kibble/treats with you so that your loved ones have a safe alternative to feed your pets when they want to spoil them!

BBQ Skewers: Many pets become seriously injured by accidentally ingesting a bbq skewer hidden in the tasty snack they swiped off the picnic table. Be mindful to keep these cooking tools far out of reach from your pets.

Open Flames: Grills, outdoor candles and bonfires pose a serious threat to our pets who are unaware of the danger fire presents. Use gates and other environmental management tools to keep pets several feet away from any open flames.

Heat Stroke: Stay mindful of the weather and temperature. Unlike humans, pets cannot sweat which makes it difficult for them to regulate their internal temperature. It's imperative for pets to have ample access to shade and water on hot days, and they may need to stay indoors if temperatures are particularly high. Pets who are brachycephalic (smoosh-faced) are at an increased risk for over-heating and should be watched especially close.

Fear, Anxiety and Stress: Monitor your pet for signs they're feeling uncomfortable with their surroundings. By catching discomfort in its early stages you're able to intervene and get your pet to a more secure setting before their discomfort and expressions of fear escalate. Early signs of discomfort include: moving away, ears pinned back, excessive yawning, licking of lips, dilated pupils, excessive panting, pacing, tail tucked tight against body. Moderate signs of discomfort include: tense body, whale eyeing (similar to a 'side eye'), lifting lips, cowering, hiding. Severe signs of discomfort include: shaking, growling, lunging, frantic attempts to flee.

Have a Plan

Many veterinary facilities are closed for July 4th, so your typical source of veterinary care may not be available should your pet experience an emergency over the holiday. In preparation for the holiday, familiarize yourself with emergency veterinary hospitals in your area that will be open and accessible. Consider posting their contact information on your fridge or adding it into your cell phone for easy access in the event of an emergency!


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