If you’re planning a July Fourth get-together this year, consider your pet’s safety while you plan. Startled or noise-averse pets can run away or become severely panicked in response to fireworks and other loud noises, and they need special accommodations to keep them calm. You can also run into trouble if your pet eats or drinks food or beverages left in their reach, or if someone forgets to close a gate. 

The Midtown Veterinary Hospital team knows that July Fourth can be dangerous for pets, so we are sharing our list of house rules for guests and residents to help keep pets safe. Share these rules with your guests ahead of time so everyone has a good time, including your pets.

#1: Close exits behind you to prevent pet escape

More pets go missing and end up in shelters or lost on the July Fourth weekend than any other holiday or time of year, because pets get spooked by fireworks and behave unexpectedly, panicking and running away without thinking. Ensure guests—and family members—close every door or gate behind them. If your yard is not securely fenced, always leash pets before letting them go outside. While you can predict the time of the city’s fireworks show, you can’t predict when or what neighbors might do. 

#2: No sharing food or drinks with pets

Human food and drink can pose many dangers to pets, including toxicity, stomach upset, pancreatitis, or foreign body obstructions. Have a clearly marked and easily accessible trash can, so your guests can dispose of their trash rather than leaving plates or cups lying around. Also, ask guests to avoid feeding your pets and provide a treat jar with safe goodies they can hand out instead.

Pay special attention to these foods, which are toxic for pets:

  • Fatty items and scraps
  • Corn cobs
  • Chocolate
  • Grapes and raisins
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Garlic and onions
  • Alcohol

If your pet does get hold of toxic food, or you suspect they did, contact the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center or Pet Poison Helpline for immediate assistance.

#3: Pets go inside for fireworks—no exceptions

Your pet could be injured if they get too close to fireworks or if a firework malfunctions. Always keep pets indoors when you or your neighbors set off fireworks, or if you anticipate a nearby fireworks show. Fireworks noise is a top trigger for pets with noise aversion, a phobic condition where pets react with panic and anxiety to loud noise. Affected pets can suffer severely from the noise, and you should do whatever you can to protect them.

Strategies to help noise-averse pets include:

  • Administering prescription anti-anxiety or sedative medications
  • Setting them up in a safe, quiet, secure, comfortable space
  • Playing calming music or white noise
  • Trying anxiety wraps or pheromone diffusers

#4: Check frequently on pets who are mingling outdoors

Ensure all family members are on board with keeping tabs on pets during the party and ensuring they get frequent breaks from the outdoor heat. Take pets indoors from time to time to decompress from the commotion and to cool down in the air conditioning. While they are outdoors, ensure they have plenty of cool water and access to shade. Pets who are most sensitive to heat include those with flat faces (i.e., brachycephalics, such as pugs and bulldogs), young and old pets, and pets with thick coats, excess fat, or underlying diseases.

#5: Pet collars and tags stay on at all times

Ensure your party pet wears a collar and ID tag at all times in case they break through your defenses and manage to get lost. Better still—opt for a microchip, which is a tiny device your veterinarian can implant underneath your pet’s skin during an outpatient visit. The chip provides authorities access to your contact information should your pet be turned into a shelter, police station, veterinary hospital, or animal control. Collars and tags can fall off, but a microchip provides permanent identification.

Careful planning and preparation can keep your pet safe and calm during your July Fourth party. Call us to schedule a visit with the Midtown Veterinary Hospital team well before the holiday if you anticipate your pet needing anti-anxiety or sedative medications, or to discuss other strategies to ensure you and your pet enjoy your holiday.