BringFido's 4th of July Pet Safety Tips

What to Do if Your Dog Is Scared of Fireworks

Posted by Erin Ballinger

Most Independence Day celebrations include family barbecues, patriotic parades, and of course, fireworks. However, the loud booms from those beautiful light shows in the sky can make this the scariest of all holidays for many of our pets. Follow these 4th of July pet safety tips to keep Fido calm while you celebrate America’s birthday.

1. Don't Leave Furry Friends Outside

Photo by @strangelolo

Many revelers will set off fireworks on the days surrounding the official holiday, so keep your pup inside the house for the entire day and night starting on Independence Day Eve. Even in a securely fenced yard, your four-legged friend can panic and bolt if loud noises scare him. When you do go outside with Fido, always use a leash (even on your turf), including during bathroom breaks. July 5th is the busiest day of the year for animal shelters in the United States because of dogs escaping their yards in fear of fireworks.

2. Party During the Day

Ideally, you want your pup so pooped by the time the sun sets that he'll sleep right through the show. Let him run free at the dog park or go for a long walk during the day so he’ll be exhausted and calm before the fireworks begin. You can also skip the nighttime festivities altogether. Even if you think he'll be okay, it's best not to put Fido in a situation where he may feel anxious or scared. Instead, celebrate at a dog-friendly, fireworks-free July 4th event during daytime hours like the Doggy 4th of July Festival at Shipgarten in McLean, VA.

3. Dress Your Dog for the Occasion

Decking out your pup in red, white and blue might get her into the holiday spirit, but we're talking about the essentials. Keep your dog's collar on at all times, and make sure it has up-to-date ID tags with your current phone number and address. If your pet is microchipped, make sure the info is properly registered. You can also buy a snuggly-fitting anxiety wrap or vest like a Thundershirt, which has been proven to ease canine anxiety.

4. Find a Comfy Spot for Fido to Not Watch the Fireworks

Keep Fido contained and comfortable in an interior room of your home or in his crate during the evening hours on July 4th and the days before and after. A bedroom or bathroom is an ideal spot for your dog. Screens are no obstacle for scared pups, so close the windows and doors to the room. If you’re at home, join your pup in his special safe area and comfort him with some TLC. If you want to get out of town for the holiday weekend, consider booking a pet-friendly vacation rental in a fireworks-free destination.

5. Use Calming Aids

Several natural remedies can help anxious pups relax during moments of great stress. You can play soothing music or white noise from a box fan, Spotify, TV, or other device to help drown out the frightening booms from the fireworks and keep your canine calm. Relax My Dog has a three-hour soundtrack to help dogs deal with fireworks and thunderstorms.

If sounds don't soothe the beast, try natural calming aids. Herbal treatments such as lavender, valerian and chamomile have proven to have a positive effect on nervous pups. They can be administered as essential oils or purchased as chewable calming treats. Try giving your pup Calming Vitamin Pops in a Pupsicle. Not only do they include vitamins to naturally soothe your furry friend, but these tasty treats will last for hours.

6. Give Your Pup Something Else to Do

Photo by Erin/BringFido

Try distracting your dog with a long-lasting treat like a Poochie Butter dog toy, Yeti Chew or Wishbone Chew Toy, which will keep her occupied and focused on something yummy, rather than loud, scary noises. While this isn't a fail-safe method, it has proven effective for some pet parents.

7. Be Prepared in Case of Emergencies

Keep the contact info for your vet or the nearest animal hospital handy in case your pet has a medical emergency. Sometimes dogs hurt themselves when they are suffering from anxiety. They can jump through a glass window or bite through their crate and injure themselves. Dogs can also have a bad reaction to medications (like Benzodiazepine) meant to help them. Consult with your vet before giving your pooch any drug to help him deal with his stress.

8. Begin Training (Far) in Advance

Desensitization training can help ease your dog's fears when the fireworks start going off, but it takes time and patience. This form of training exposes pets to a stimulus (in this case, a loud or scary noise) starting at a very low intensity, while they're engaged in a positive activity. With continued positive reinforcement and behavior modification training, by next Independence Day, Fido may be worry-free!

Did we leave anything out? Share your best tips for keeping dogs safe this 4th of July. Leave a comment or tweet us @BringFido!

Banner photo by Getty Images.