July Fourth, which many consider the highlight of the summer, is a time to come together and celebrate our country’s independence. While parties, fireworks shows, food, family, and friends are a great time for human family members, your pets might disagree. Our Fairfax Veterinary Clinic team understands that pets are exposed to multiple dangers on Independence Day and provides pet owners with tips for keeping their pets safe and happy.

#1: Provide pets with a safe indoor space during fireworks and parties

Two-thirds of pets have noise aversion, which causes them to feel anxiety or panic when they hear loud noises like fireworks. Crowds also trigger anxiety in some pets, making July Fourth a double threat. But, you can keep your pet calm by providing a safe, indoor, quiet space that protects them from noise and crowds. If the family is attending a fireworks show or other event, plan to leave your pet at home, safe in their designated space. Keeping pets inside or leaving them at home also protects them from burns or other firework-related injuries.

Your pet’s safe space should have comfortable bedding and their favorite toys. You can also try the following:

  • Anxiety wraps
  • Soothing music
  • Dog or cat-specific pheromones

If your pet has extreme noise reactions, you should contact our team to discuss medications or supplements to help them feel calm during the holiday. Anti-anxiety medications can help your pet feel better and prevent them from injuring themselves or damaging your home.

#2: Microchip your pet and ensure tag information is up to date

Pets often become startled by July Fourth noise and run away or get lost. Ensure your pet has proper identification to increase their chances of a safe return. A well-fitting collar with up-to-date identification tags is a good starting place, but a microchip offers permanent identification.

A microchip is about the size of a rice grain, and can be implanted by injection under your pet’s skin during an outpatient visit. If your pet is found and turned into an animal shelter or police station, the authorities can scan the chip with a special reader that links to your pet’s chip number with your contact information, and you can be reunited with your pet.

#3: Keep holiday food and drink away from pets

Summer barbeque foods and alcoholic drinks are tempting for pets, but can lead to serious problems. Ensure household guests do not share food with your pets and clean up carefully after everyone leaves. If your pet gets into someone’s plate or the trash, they could suffer from the following:

  • Gastroenteritis — Vomiting or diarrhea can result from eating something unfamiliar.
  • Pancreatitis — Painful pancreatic inflammation and systemic illness can result from eating too much fat.
  • Foreign body — Corn cobs are a common summer barbeque culprit, but any inedible item can become lodged in a pet’s intestines, necessitating emergency surgery.
  • Toxicity — Alcohol, onions, garlic, chocolate, and grapes are examples of the many party foods toxic to pets.

#4: Use pet-safe sunscreens and bug repellents

In the height of summer, heat, sun, and bugs are all problems. You may be tempted to spritz your pet’s nose with sunscreen or your bug repellent to prevent mosquito bites, but these products contain chemicals, such as zinc and DEET, that may be toxic for your pet. Instead, keep your pet indoors or purchase sunscreen or a bug repellent formulated specifically for pets using natural, safe ingredients.

#5: Provide adequate shade and water to prevent heat stress in pets

Heat stress and heatstroke can be devastating for pets, so ensure you provide them with adequate cool water and shade when outdoors. Leave them at home if the temperature climbs too high, or offer frequent indoor breaks when you’re hosting an event. Pets especially susceptible to heatstroke include puppies and kittens, seniors, overweight pets, thick-coated pets, brachycephalic pets (e.g., bulldogs, pugs), and pets with underlying medical conditions.

Enjoy the holidays with your pets by following our July Fourth tips to keep them safe from danger and to help them relax during loud noises. If you anticipate your pet will need medications or behavioral help during July Fourth, or you have questions about keeping them safe during the holiday, contact our Fairfax Veterinary Clinic team as far in advance as possible.