Fourth of July Safety for Pets & Horses

4th of July celebrations might be a lot of fun for people, but they can be downright scary for our animals, especially cats, dogs and horses. The sights, sounds and commotion of Independence Day can confuse animals and make them nervous, which can cause them to run away or place themselves in harmful situations.

Keep your animals safe with these tips

To help keep your animals from becoming overly stressed this 4th of July, consider the following tips:

  • Do not take your pets to fireworks displays.
  • Keep pets indoors and away from crowds so that they feel more protected. Due to the noise, dogs may try to dig out of yards, so keeping them inside is a good choice.
  • Animals that are already crate trained may feel safest in their crate.
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  • A fan or other "white noise" can help mask the sound of fireworks.
  • Consider boarding your animals in a safe place that is farther away from the holiday action. If you plan to travel during this time, boarding your animal might be a better option than leaving it at home.
  • Early behavior training can desensitize your animal to holiday commotion. It is important to teach your puppy (ideally) or dog how to handle loud noises through positive conditioning. Do not punish your dog for being scared by thunderstorms or fireworks.
  • Your veterinarian may choose to prescribe a sedative for your animal if it tends to become easily spooked by the fireworks. Remember that your animal must be seen by a veterinarian in order to receive any prescribed medications.
  • The 4th of July is also a good time to make sure that your pet is wearing an ID collar and is microchipped.
  • Keep pets away from fireworks, matches, lighter fluid, as well as the food and drinks (including alcohol) that may accompany 4th of July celebrations.
  • If you have horses, be sure to keep them indoors and away from the sound of fireworks.

If your pet does become lost

  • Check the neighborhood (or area where the pet became lost), as pets have been known to be found close to home even several days later.
  • Put up signs with your pet's photo and your phone number. It is recommended to use only your first name and not include your home phone number on the notice. A cell phone number is preferrable, as it cannot easily be traced to your home address via online searches.
  • If your pet is microchipped (and we recommend that it should be), contact your microchip registration company. Once notified, they may activate a lost pet recovery network and/or place your lost pet on a "hot sheet" or on their social media networks.
  • Contact your veterinarian. If your pet is wearing a collar with rabies tag (also recommended), the number can be traced to your veterinarian and then back to you if the pet is found or taken to a shelter.
  • Contact animal control, shelters and humane organizations in your area. If possible, visit them daily to see if your pet has been brought in. July 5th is usually a very busy day at these agencies.
  • Place a lost pet ad in your local newspaper and/or online, such as on Facebook or Craigslist.
  • Check the paper and online sources daily for "found pet" ads as well as pet for sale ads. There has been an increase in people attempting to sell found or stolen pets on sites such as Craigslist.

If you have any concerns or questions about helping your animal stay calm and safe during the 4th of July holiday, please talk to your veterinarian.

Published: March 11, 2009;    Updated: June 18, 2013

Filed Under: Safety, Seasonal Issues, Companion Animals, Equine, Cats, Dogs

Author: Oregon Veterinary Medical Association

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