Fireworks and pets don’t have the greatest history of getting along. July 5th is often the busiest day of the year for many animal shelters, working hard to safely catch, identify, and return local pets spooked by annual fireworks displays.
If your dog suffers from anxiety or acts erratically during fireworks or other loud noises, it’s important to help them feel safe throughout the night. With a little planning, you can ensure your fur babies enjoy the holiday as much as you do.
1. Exercise your pet earlier in the day.
By exercising your pet, whether that means a long walk or extra playtime with a toy, they’re more likely to be tired, and therefore calmer, at night. Make sure you take your dog to the restroom several times before the fireworks begin, as well. You wouldn’t want to interrupt the festivities with a bathroom break, especially when Fido is supposed to be indoors, shielded from hazardous debris.
2. Make sure their tag and microchip are up to date.
If your pet manages to break loose and become lost, without proper identification it will be that much harder to get them back. Take off any festive bandanas or outfits once it starts to get dark out — it’s best if their tag remains clearly visible.
15% of pet owners lost a pet in the last five years. A microchip can mean the difference between a joyous reunion and wondering where your four-legged best friend went.
3. Keep your dogs indoors.
This goes for outdoor pets too! During a fireworks display, your pet may be looking for a safe place to hide or may run away from the commotion out of fear.
In addition to becoming loose, fireworks contain several types of chemicals and heavy metals that are poisonous to dogs. If you set off fireworks outside your home, make sure you thoroughly clean up the area before letting your dog roam free again.
4. Give your pet a safe place to hide.
Depending on your pet, this can mean different things from being in their crate to curled up in a den of blankets to be in a separate room with toys. If they’re in a separate room, some ambient noise or calming music can help cover the sound of fireworks.
5. Give them something to chew on.
Nothing can help calm an anxious dog like chewing on their favorite bone or chew! Dog chews like Bully Sticks, Bully Braids, and Collagen Chews are known to help relieve stress, so be sure to have plenty of chews to distract them.
6. Try an anxiety wrap.
Emma Stenhouse, an author at Pet Life Today, explains that anxiety wraps work by exerting a firm but gentle pressure that helps to soothe feelings of anxiety in your dog.
“Many dog owners find them an invaluable and relatively inexpensive.. [and they have] a great track record of helping to soothe anxious dogs,” she writes.
You’ll want to find one that’s breathable and comfortable, while also being easy to put on and take off. If you really don’t know which one to choose, look for one that has been vouched for by veterinarians or ask your own for their advice. You can find more ways to calm an anxious dog on our blog.
7. Take a current photo.
If worse comes to worst and posters have to be made, a current photo is going to be much more helpful than their cute, but outdated, puppy portrait.
8. Be prepared for the worst.
In the event your pet goes missing, you can download the free ASPCA Pet Safety App for a step-by-step rescue toolkit. Within the app, you’ll find a searchable list of substances including but not limited to: household hazards, medications and warm and cold weather toxins, access to other APCC online resources.
9. Consider boarding your dog.
If you are going to be out for the night, consider leaving your dog with other dog friends and trained staff. Many doggie daycares are so well-insulated, your dog may not even hear the fireworks on the big night.
Pro-Tip: If your dog is already stressed out, it is not the day to try boarding for the first time! It will just stress your dog out even more.
If you’re hosting a party:
10. Ask guests to help you keep an eye on your pet.
Guests can be a great help in keeping track of your pet throughout the night. They’re already fawning over how cute your pet is, after all!
11. Never use fireworks around dogs or other pets.
Excitable dogs have been known to charge at, attack, eat, or play with fireworks and firecrackers. Fireworks may cause injuries like severe burns, trauma, and even deadly injuries and poisoning. Most fireworks also contain potentially toxic substances like arsenic, potassium nitrate, and other heavy metals.
12. Keep flammable items away from your pet.
It’s very tempting to get that perfect photo of your pet near a sparkler, but it’s best to err on the side of caution here. Keep all flammable things, from glow sticks to fireworks, away from your pet.
This extends to matches and lighter fluid out of your pet's reach. Certain types of matches contain chlorates, which could cause difficulty breathing or even kidney disease in severe cases. Lighter fluid can be irritating to skin and if ingested can produce gastrointestinal irritation and central nervous system depression.