Four for the Fourth: Fourth of July Pet Safety Tips from PugetPets

Are you ready for the Fourth of July? Independence Day fun and festivities can be stressful times for pets and pet guardians alike. The loud sounds and burning smells of fireworks overwhelm many animals with fear, causing them to run for their lives. In fact, more pets run away on the Fourth of July than on any other day of the year. To help you keep your pets safe and calm this Fourth, PugetPets offers these four important tips and reminders.

1. Leave pets home on the Fourth of July.

Unless you know for sure your dog is okay with fireworks, leave him or her home if you are going to a fireworks display. If you can’t be at home, consider having a friend or a PugetPets sitter stay with your pet. A loving human presence provides reassurance. In case the unthinkable does happen, make sure your pets’ microchips and other identification are up-to-date and have current photos of your pets on hand. Check out this PugetPets blog post for more on how to update microchips.

2. Manage the Fourth of July environment.

Provide pets with a quiet and secure indoor area from which they cannot escape. If your pet has a “happy place,” such as a kennel, bed or box, ensure that they have access to it. Add extra bedding for pet rabbits and other small hutch animals. Bedding helps muffle sound and allows them to snuggle or burrow. Birds are also sensitive to sound. You can read about how to keep your pet bird calm during Fourth of July festivities here. Include favorite toys in any pet’s environment. These not only help distract, but also provide an element of familiarity, which increases feelings of security. For mammals, hold off on washing washable toys till the fireworks are over to help maintain their familiar, and therefore comforting, smell.

3. Calm your pets’ senses.

Use pets’ sense of smell, hearing and touch to help keep them calm. Lavender oil can help relax, and items with your scent, such as yesterday’s t-shirt, can provide reassurance. Sound, such as soft classical or jazz music or ambient sounds like ocean waves can help distract from the loud Fourth of July booms. Music that you often listen to in your pet’s presence has also been shown to help. Anything familiar or part of a routine can help make your pet feel safer. Music that is specially created for dogs and for cats is also available from companies such as iCalmPet. Finally, your presence and touch or those of your PugetPets sitter also soothe and reassure your pet. If you use a tactile calming product such as Thundershirt, remember to acclimate your pet to the shirt days or weeks in advance. Wearing the shirt when they are actually calm will reinforce its effect when they are not.

4. Play hard.

Before the Fourth of July fireworks get going, be sure to engage in lots of active play with your pet. This serves two purposes. First, it tires your pet out. A tired pet will have less energy to devote to being afraid. Second, it lowers your anxiety level. The less anxious you are about how your pet will react on the Fourth of July, the less anxious your pet will be. A stressed human means a stressed pet. Pets pick up on very subtle changes in our scent and behaviors. If they believe we are worried, they will feel there is really something to worry about. So have some fun with your pets on the Fourth while keeping them safe and sound! The PugetPets blog provides more tips on Fourth of July safety here.