3 Vital Tips For Keeping Your Pets Safe This 4th of July

July 4th, our nation’s birthday, is a hallmark of summer. It is a day for festivities, summer cook-outs and watching fireworks. Although July 4th can be a great day for fun and celebration, it can be a tough day for many pets.  Our very own Dr. Annette Rauch would like to share some great tips for getting your furry friends through the day without injuries, and without too much stress.


More dogs are lost on July 4th than on any other day of the year. Reasons for that are many, but consider the activities that occur on that day. Many people attend outdoor festivities and bring their dog along for a fun day at the park. This brings dogs into unfamiliar territory, and if a dog gets separated from his family, a reunion can be difficult. 

Also, lots of people have parties at their home. That means lots of strangers coming in and out through the doors. It is easy for a nervous dog or cat to rush out the house and wander off without notice in the midst of a house party.

Lastly, unfamiliar things happen on this day, like fireworks. The fear generated by the loud noises of fireworks can cause pets to bolt. So, it is important to identify your pet. If you own a dog, make sure they are wearing a secure collar that won’t slip off the neck. Attach your dog’s rabies tag, and an id tag with a reliable cell phone number or your address to the collar. 

Has your dog or cat been microchipped yet?

For all pets, microchip your pet! This is a simple and inexpensive way to permanently identify your pet. Any dog or cat picked up by animal control, or surrendered to a shelter, will be scanned for a microchip. Make sure your microchip is registered to your current contact information. A shelter pet found to have a microchip will not be adopted to a new owner; you will be contacted that your lost pet has been found.

#2 Avoid fireworks

Fireworks are fun for people!  However, nothing about them is fun for your pet.  Keep animals away from fireworks.  Make sure to securely store fireworks prior to the holiday.  Some fireworks contain toxins, and animals have been poisoned when they mistook a firework for a chew toy.  When setting off fireworks, keep all pets away.  Many curious pets have been severely burned and injured when sniffing fireworks just prior to them exploding.  

Lastly, consider that many pets are terrified of fireworks.  The loud noises, the flashes of light, and even the smell of pyrotechnics are all unfamiliar to most pets.  Animals are different; some have very relaxed and laid back personalities, and take all the strangeness of the holiday in stride. But many, many pets are terrified of fireworks.

Signs of distress in your pet include panting, increased rate of breathing, drooling, dilated pupils, seeking out their owners for comfort, hiding in unusual places in the home (like behind the toilet), and fleeing in a frantic attempt to escape from the frightful fireworks.  This is how pets, both dogs and cats and horses get lost.  

To avoid such a tragedy, don’t bring your pet to the fireworks display.  Keep them securely inside your home.  Some pets are more comfortable confined in a crate covered with a blanket.  Consider purchasing a ThunderShirt on your pet; they physically surround your pet, and give the sensation of an all day hug.

Please leave a comment below if you have ever used a ThunderShirt  to help comfort your pet.

If your dog is severely distressed, ask your veterinarian about behavior therapy and/or medication.  They will have both sedatives and medications specifically for noise phobia.  If you own livestock, make sure they are securely fenced in and as far away from the fireworks as possible.  

Enjoy the day, but don't forget about the safety our your four legged friends.

credit: flickr, jerry dohnal

#3 Beware of the cookout

Use some basic precautions whenever having guests at your home.  Secure all trash.  Tell guests not to feed table scraps or treats any of your pets.  Keep the pets away from the hot grill.  These guidelines seem obvious, but mishaps only take a second to cause serious harm to your furry friend.  

All of your guests may not be aware that some human foods are toxic to pets.  Some guests enjoy watching pets gobble up all sorts of human treats, not realizing the amount of food they are actually giving the pet.  Eating unfamiliar foods can cause intestinal upset, leading to days of vomiting and diarrhea.  Sensitive pets can also get pancreatitis from dietary changes, and this condition can be life-threatening.  

A knocked over trash can will provide a pet with a huge variety of food scraps, again causing GI upset.  One dog ate an entire wooden barbeque skewer at a family cook out, and needed several surgeries to remove the skewer from his chest!

Your grill can also be very enticing to pets; it smells delicious.  Dogs and cats have been burned in the face when attempting to remove food from the grill, and many cats have burned their foot pads when they jump up on the grill to investigate those delicious aromas.  


Everyone can enjoy the cookout, fireworks and family fun as long as you take a few precautions to keep your pets out of harm’s way.  These tips will allow all of the people to enjoy the July 4th celebrations; and will also allow all of your animal friends to get through the day without incident.  

EVEN More Ways to HElp!

Did you know that the 5th of July is one of the busiest days of the year for animal shelters?

The PAAWS RI team will be working tirelessly to help every lost animal find their way home and we could really use your help

Please consider making a donation by clicking the button below. Your gift will help reunite lost pets with their families and provide lifesaving medical care to animals in need.

By Dr. Annette Rauch, Founder of PAAWS RI

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