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The Fourth of July is a fun and festive holiday with barbecues, family, friends, and fireworks. But there are several hazards to be aware of for your four legged friends and that last aspect, the fireworks, can be utterly terrifying for pets. The loud noises send many pets scurrying for the nearest hiding hole, whether that’s in your home or down the street. Check out our safety tips to learn how to avoid the perils and stress that can accompany the holiday so that everyone can have a safe, relaxing 4th of July.

Food Hazards

You probably already have a list of foods that are toxic for dogs, like chocolate, grapes, and avocado. But did you know that fatty foods can lead to pancreatitis and non-edible parts of foods (like bones, corncobs, peach pits, and watermelon rinds) can cause gastrointestinal obstructions? There are so many foods that can be problematic for dogs that it’s easier to just remember not to give your pups any human food! And remind your friends and family of the rule so that Grandma doesn’t accidentally hurt Fido by giving him corn. Ok, you can give him a small bite of your hot dog, I won’t tell…and it is a holiday!

Keep in mind that some dogs are not very wary of grills and grilling utensils as well. That amazing smell of grilling burgers and brats could encourage your pup to stick his nose on a hot grill, or even jump up and burn his feet. Make sure grilling utensil and skewers are out of reach for your pets so they aren’t tempted to start gnawing on a sharp stick flavored with lovely meat juice!

Environmental Hazards

Citronella candles and tiki torch oil are great to help keep the bugs away from your grill out, but can be hazardous to dogs if swallowed or if the fumes are inhaled. Keep your pets away from lit candles as well as any fires, sparklers, or glow sticks you have lit.

Remember to supervise your pets if you are celebrating near water, either a pool, lake, or river. Always know where your pet is and act as a lifeguard for them when they are in the water.

The Ever Dreaded Fireworks

Many of us love fireworks – the boom, the colors, the excitement – but our pets, not so much. Their superior sense of hearing and smell can turn those celebratory explosions into a scary event. Be sure to keep your pet away from anywhere fireworks might be lit. If you know your pet has a fear of fireworks, teach them some coping mechanisms and use calming supplements, music, or wraps to help your pet feel more comfortable.

Make sure that your pet is secured, both in your home and in your yard. Never leave your pet outside unattended during fireworks in case the noise startles them and they bolt. Keep your pet’s collar with ID tags on them just in case the worst happens and they take off. Be sure to microchip your pet so that you have a better chance of getting them back if they do escape. If you know your pet is afraid of fireworks, do their last potty break for the night before the noises start so that they can remain safe inside for the duration.

Calming Assistance

Ideally, you know that your pet is afraid of fireworks and loud noises and can work ahead of time to help desensitize your pet and teach them relaxation and coping techniques. But that process takes time and the 4th of July is almost here. So here are a few tips and products that you can use to assist in keeping your pet comfortable.

  • Set up a safe space for them. Create a “happy place” in advance of the fireworks where your pet can feel secure. Find a spot in your home that your pet already likes to relax that could buffer some of the sounds, like a walk-in closet or a bathroom without windows (yes, my dog loves to sleep in the shower…it is her safe space). Fill it with cozy bedding and blankets (those that smell like you may help keep your pet even calmer, like you’re there giving them a hug), favorite toys, and maybe a special treat or chew to distract them.
  • Don’t make a fuss over your stressed pet. When our pet is distressed, it is difficult for us to not comfort them, but excessive comforting can validate their fears or reward the pet’s behaviors. Give them a few pats, tell them its ok, but otherwise carry on as if nothing special or stressful is happening. They can take their cues from you and hopefully realize the world is not ending.
  • Drown out the sound. Try to leave calming music or a peaceful tv show on to help block the sound of the booms. Make sure your pet can hear it from their safe space but don’t make it too loud or the extra noise could bother your pet even more. Closing all of the windows and doors in your house may also help. The link below is a special pet speaker designed to help calm your pets.
    • Pet Tunes Canine – a speaker and playlist clinically proven to calm dogs, also available for cats
  • Give your pet a “hug.” You aren’t literally hugging your pet, but by putting a comforting wrap on your pet, like the Thundershirt, you are giving them compression comfort that could help ease their fears.
  • Consider calming supplements or pheromones. There are several natural supplements that are designed to reduce anxiety for pets. You may want to start them before the fireworks begin to allow the supplement time to work. Supplements like L-theanine, L-tryptophan, and Casein are naturally found supplements that produce calming hormones in your pet.
    • Pheromone collars, like the Adaptil Calm-on-the-go Collar, can provide a slow and consistent release of calming pheromones while in contact with your pet’s body heat.
    • Rescue Remedy is an essential oil based calming supplement that you can add to your pet’s water to help keep them calmer.
    • CBD treats and supplements are also becoming more popular with pet owners to aid in reducing their pet’s anxieties.

Use these tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable holiday for all two and four legged friends and family. Happy Fourth of July!