6 Tips To Keep Your Dog Safe During July Fourth Celebrations

The Fourth may be a celebratory time for humans but for our dogs, cats, as well as wildlife, it's stressful and even dangerous.

Culprit number one, of course, is the dreaded Fourth of July fireworks.

That's not news to you if you have a noise-sensitive dog who is stressed, fearful, shaking, barking, hiding, crying, or showing any number of signs of feeling terrorized during fireworks. Even dogs who aren't outwardly expressing anxiety can have noise phobias and be quietly but highly stressed and anxious with each boom.

Whether you're a seasoned dog parent or new to the world of dog emotions and wellness, let's jump into a few key things to know and do to make this holiday enjoyable and safe for everyone.

Understanding fireworks' impact on dogs

Fireworks displays may be a visual delight for humans, but they can be terrifying for pets. The loud noises and bright flashes can trigger anxiety and fear in dogs, cats, and other animals. Understanding the impact of fireworks on our dogs (and all animals) is crucial for taking the necessary precautions.

How fireworks affect animals -- not just dogs

Fireworks can cause a range of reactions in dogs and all animals, from mild stress to severe panic. Why? Ask any animal behaviorist -- the sudden loud sounds and flashing lights can trigger the most elemental "fight or flight" response in your dog's central nervous system. That instinctive reaction leads to symptoms such as trembling, panting, hiding, and even attempts to escape. In extreme cases, fireworks can cause pets to run away, resulting in injury and getting lost.

That's true in the wild as well. The shock of fireworks can trigger the flight response in wildlife, with frightened animals and birds ending up in unexpected areas or roadways, flying into buildings, leaving nests and their young vulnerable. Baby animals can take off in fear, becoming separated from their mothers.

Your dog is not alone in feeling stressed around fireworks. It's a hard-wired, emotional reaction, not a chosen behavior, in your dog.

Fireworks debris impacts the environment

Fireworks also have a negative impact on the environment, both in air quality and toxic debris on land and in water. Stay alert after fireworks for lingering smoke and particulates in the air that are unhealthy to breathe for our dogs (us as well), especially if they're prone to allergies or asthmatic issues.

You'll also want to keep an eye out for any debris left on the ground on dog walks (random neighborhood fireworks can be even worse than scheduled displays for toxic litter left behind where your curious dog might walk).

July Fourth is the #1 time for missing dogs

It's no wonder that more family dogs and cats are lost and shelters pushed dangerously beyond capacity with newly homeless animals around the Fourth of July than any other time of year. That makes it especially important that your dog stays safe and secure during the holiday celebrations.

6 tips for keeping your dog safe during July Fourth celebrations

Keeping your pets safe during the Fourth of July requires a multi-faceted approach. Here are 6 practical tips that together help you make sure you've set up your dog to stay calm and secure amidst the noisy onslaught of firework displays outside.

1) Create a safe space at home.

Creating a safe, quiet space at home can help alleviate your dog's anxiety. Choose a room that is as far away from the noise as possible and make it cozy with your pup's favorite blankets, toys, and treats.

Close windows and curtains to minimize the sound and light from fireworks. Playing calming music or white noise can also help drown out the disruptive sounds. Ensuring your dog has access to this safe space well before the booms start can make a significant difference in stress levels.

If you are not at home and have a pet sitter anytime around the Fourth (since there may be scheduled/unscheduled fireworks all week), make sure your pet sitter as well as all family members are aware of your dog's safe space. You'll want to share the details of each of these tips for supporting your pup -- where the treats and toys are, activities and distractions for your dog, etc.

2) Distract your pup with activities.

Distraction is another effective way to keep pets calm during fireworks. Engage your pup in activities he or she loves, like playing with toys or practicing tricks. Providing high-value chews that require mental effort, such as puzzle feeders, lick pads, and long-lasting chews can also keep your dog's mind occupied and stimulate the calming effect of chewing/licking in your pup's brain.

A couple favorites you might want to try:

  • All-Natural Bully Sticks - single, healthful ingredient and long-lasting chews.
  • Dog Lick Mat - distracting and soothing, giving your dog the instinctive calming effect of licking. (Slather with healthful, made-for-dogs, peanuts only/nothing else Bark 'N Butter for an extra-engaging lick treat)

Many dogs love gentle brushing or massages, and both can help your dog feel comforted and relaxed. The key is to keep your dog engaged and distracted from the outside commotion, reducing anxiety and promoting positive experiences and associations.

3) Update dog identification and safety checks.

Despite all precautions, there's always a risk that a dog might panic and try to escape. Make sure your dog is wearing a collar or harness with an ID tag that includes your contact information. Microchipping your dog is another reliable method of identification that can greatly increase the chances of being reunited if your pup gets lost.

Double-check that all doors, windows, and gates are securely closed. If you have visitors, remind them to be mindful of opening and closing doors. And, of course, keep your dog inside during all festivities! Taking these steps can prevent your dog from running away in a moment of panic.

4) Relax your dog with calming treats.

Calming treats and supplements can help reduce your dog's anxiety. Natural ingredients such as chamomile, melatonin, and passion flower have been used for centuries in Eastern and holistic medicine to calm and destress humans and animals.

Our vet-formulated Mighty Calm chews provide stress and behavior support for dogs using all three of those ingredients as well as L-tryptophan, an essential amino acid dogs' (and humans') bodies need to make serotonin. As a neurotransmitter, serotonin is known for sending messages from the brain throughout the body to help all of us relax.

5) Mask noise with sound machines and calming music.

Sound machines that play white noise or calming music can be very effective in masking the noise of fireworks and drowning out the disruptive sounds. Or settle in and watch a movie or concert video with your pup at higher-than-usual volume. Your presence and positive sounds can distract your dog from registering the outside noise.

6) Collaborate with local shelters.

Collaborating with local shelters and veterinarians can make your efforts easier and connect you with a community sharing your purpose of supporting your dog and all dogs. Shelters can often help with temporary IDs, microchipping services, advice on managing canine anxiety, and ways to get the word out if you suddenly find yourself with a lost or found dog or cat. Working together with professionals ensures you have supportive connections already in place when you need them.

And most of all, if your home situation works for being a foster parent even if very temporarily after July Fourth, let your local shelter know! Rescues and shelters are desperately in need of foster homes -- especially around the Fourth when they need to be able to give more dogs shelter. Without space, they have to turn dogs away who might otherwise be reconnected with their families or, if truly homeless, adopted into their forever family. If you can foster, please do it. It may be the most rewarding thing you'll ever do (just ask others who have fostered)!

And remember, for all holidays there is plenty of hubbub with new people and foods intended for people not dogs (like hot dogs, grapes, and other tempting food scraps) that you'll want to have an eye on as well. Following these tips should help you set up your pup to successfully navigate a smoother, less stressed holiday week for both of you.

Wishing both you and your dog the happiest, safest Fourth of July!

At Mighty Paw, we believe in helping all dogs live their healthiest, happiest, and fullest lives by our sides. That's why we're dedicated to finding ways to help you bring more wellness and joy to your dog and your adventures together. And to help you navigate potentially stressful times successfully.

We're committed to providing high-quality products that are safe, durable, and practical for everything you need to keep your pup healthy, happy, and enjoying every moment with you.

Keep exploring our products for more of the best for dogs! And don't forget to follow us on social media!

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