Preparing Your Pet for the Fourth of July

By Stephanie Meyer, DVM, CVA

The Fourth of July is a favorite holiday for many of us; however, your animal companion may not feel the same way. The explosive sounds, vibrations, flashes of light, and burnt aromas can trigger your pet’s flight instinct. Consequently, more dogs run away and/or get injured on the Fourth than any other holiday. Preparedness is crucial to make this an enjoyable and safe holiday for both you and your pet:

Identification: Ensure your pet’s identification is updated. Your pet should have a collar with an identification tag, as well as a microchip with your current contact information. If your pet does not have an ID tag and/or microchip, now is the time to get them!

Accommodation: If you cannot take your animal friend to a place where there won’t be fireworks, then a familiar crate is a useful tool. Crates serve both to safely contain your pet and help to keep him or her calm. You can partially cover your pet’s crate with a blanket to increase darkness and minimize flashes of light. Note that leaving your dog outside (even in a fenced area) is not secure enough when he or she becomes anxious or frightened. Your dog may bark uncontrollably, chew through leashes, dig under or go over fences, become destructive, or run away in an attempt to escape the loud noises.

Training and Communication: Your dog should have basic obedience training. A consistent “come” command is critical if your dog runs from you when he or she becomes frightened. Another important command to master is “stay.” If you are going to be with your dog during fireworks, calming communication may help your dog to relax. Dogs not only listen to your words, but also sense your energy and emotions. If you remain calm, it will help your dog to feel calm as well.

Calming Products: Some pets will still be extremely reactive to fireworks despite your best efforts. It may be necessary to contact your veterinarian to discuss ways to help your pet stay calm through the holiday. Some examples include: wrapping your pet in a ThunderShirt to calm him or her (similar to swaddling an infant); giving medications to safely sedate your pet; or playing relaxing auditory CDs designed to calm animals.

PVH offers comprehensive and 24/7 emergency veterinary care. If you have questions about keeping your animal companion calm and safe through the Fourth of July, contact us at 360.568.3113.

Article added 6.7.14