The fourth of July is a time for BBQs, pool parties, and fireworks! While we stand in awe every year to ohhh and ahhh at the fiery sites, most pets spend the evening terrified. In fact, July fourth is the number one time of year for pets to go missing. More pets run away in their fearful uncertainty about what’s happening and end up getting lost. Shelters become overrun, and not all pet guardians end up getting reunited with their furry friends. But it’s okay! We’ve got your back. Here are some quick top tips to keep you and your fur-family safe this holiday.
Keep all pets indoors for the afternoon and evening. This includes dogs who usually spend the evening outside because many dogs push their way through an old fence out of fear and the instinct to run. Bring in outdoor cats too. This is a night many cats are hit by cars because they are disoriented while there are more cars on the road than usual.
Tire dogs out as much as possible. Take them for a run in the morning, before it gets too hot. Set aside time to play with them in the afternoon. A good 30 minutes will help ensure Fido doesn't have any pent up energy, which will help him stay calm.
Set aside a cool, comfortable place that will be as quiet as possible. We don’t want them to feel like they are being punished on top of dealing with the stress of fireworks, but we do want them to have more comfort than usual and letting them hang in a room where they feel safe will help. Be sure to leave water, a favorite toy, and a bed, so they have familiar things around them.
Close curtains and blinds. This will help to block outside flashes of light and will provide just a little more protection from the booms and other unusual neighborhood sounds.
We can keep our pets distracted if we are staying home with them. By giving them something to do, like playing with them or giving them a favorite rawhide to chew on, we help to reinforce that everything is okay.
Do not use fireworks around pets. Even if our cats and dogs love the festivities as much as we do, there’s just too much that can go wrong. Keep them away from any fireworks and sparklers.
Follow their lead. Some dogs and cats are okay with fireworks. Some are scared. The best thing to do is leave room for our pets to have whatever reaction they are going to have. If it fearful, reinforce that everything is okay. While preparation is important, we don’t need to make them fearful by anticipating the reaction ahead of time with our voice and body language. And we don’t need to force them to be okay if they aren’t. If we stay calm, our cats and dogs are more likely to remain calm.
Double check tags and chips. This is the season to double check that tags are current with our address, phone, and vaccines. Some shelters won’t take an animal in if they aren’t current on their rabies vaccine. And chips can end up being outdated with old addresses or guardians.
Put that collar on. Many of us get lazy and leave the collar off most days. This is the day to leave it on. Should anything happen, we’re providing our cats and dogs with the best possible chance to find their way home. For more about lost pet prevention, check out this article about lost pet prevention month.
Spending time with our cat- and canine-companions even after the show is over can be a great way to help soothe them and let them know everything is fine. They relax a lot faster if they know their reaction is okay and if we help them return to normal activities even though there may be neighborhood festivities continuing late into the night.
Avoid holiday scraps. It’s always tempting to share a burger or other table scraps, but this is the best day to keep dogs and cats on their usual diet. Human food and rich foods they aren’t used to can leave them feeling queasy. The stress of a fourth of July evening can end up making things worse.
Be especially careful to avoid alcohol, lighter fluid, and other things that are toxic to cats and dogs that we may not otherwise have lying around. Matches are also harmful to pets, and we know curious cats and snacky canines may misunderstand just how crucial it is to stay away from these items.
Only use pet-approved insect repellent. Citronella and other insect control products are harmful to cats and dogs. DEET can be especially dangerous, causing neurological problems if applied our pets or sprayed while they are nearby. This also applies if we forgot we put it on and let them lick us. Even some pet-approved insecticides will make dogs and cats feel ill for a few hours or even days. We recommend EcoBug. It’s a powerful all-natural solution that repels the trifecta: fleas, ticks, and mosquitos, as well as other pests.
We all want to have an amazing Independence Day. Let’s make it safe and fun for our fur-babies too. Have a wonderful fourth!