Each year on the 4th of July, Americans celebrate our Independence Day. It's a party every year, but not so much for dogs. Thanks to scary fireworks and holiday weekend travel, more dogs are lost during 4th of July weekend than any other time of year! Two of the most important Fourth of July Safety Tips For Dogs focus on reducing dog anxiety caused by fireworks, and limiting the risk of dogs getting lost on July 4th weekend. Taking precautions to keep our dogs safe on 4th of July is critical! 

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Fourth of July Safety Tips For Dogs


The two dog safety issues I worry about most over the 4th of July weekend are dog anxiety and stress due to fear of Fireworks and dogs getting lost over the Fourth of July weekend.


Many dogs have a huge fear of fireworks, making the 4th of July holiday very stressful. Stress and anxiety are unhealthy and unpleasant for everyone, including dogs.  My dog Icy is terrified of fireworks, so we keep her indoors and take steps to reduce her anxiety.  Here are some ideas to help calm dogs on 4th of July.

🎇 On the day of the fireworks, long before they begin, exercise your dog well so she's burned off a lot of energy early in the day. An extra long walk, a hike, time at the beach or park, even fun games at home. Being well exercised and tired from a fun day should help reduce your dog's anxiety somewhat.

🎇 Just before the fireworks start, play music at a high volume or have the TV on loudly.  This usually helps a little, although your dog may still hear loud, booming fireworks if they're close enough. I think this is good for dogs whose fear of fireworks is fairly mild. My dog's fear of fireworks is pretty bad so this doesn't help her much.

🎇 You can try a calming garment like the Thundershirt for dogs.  The shirt provides an effect similar to swaddling an infant in a blanket. Gentle pressure is applied to the dog's body as he wears it, helping him feel more safe and calm.  I haven't tried calming garments like the Thundershirt, but I have friends who have used them and had great results.

🎇 The thing that works best for our dog is dog calming treats. We give Icy one or two calming treats just before dark. Fireworks usually start at about 9pm in our area.  The calming treats definitely help a lot. They really reduce my dog's stress, preventing her from pacing through the house or trembling like a leaf! 

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Calming treats help my dog stay calm during fireworks

We like Therabis Calm and Quiet calming treats, a hemp derived CBD supplement for dogs. It works well and Icy really likes the taste. 

I've also used Hemp Calming Support treats from Only Natural Pet with good results. I have a good friend that uses Treatibles, a Hemp CBD Oil based treat.  

You may have to order calming supplements online from Amazon, PetSmart, Chewy, or Only Natural Pet. Pet supply stores often have very little in stock in terms of calming treats or supplements. If you want to try any of these I suggest you order online and leave enough time for shipping.

🎇 Some people use medication for dogs to alleviate anxiety, but I'm not a fan of using sedatives for dogs during fireworks or storms. I prefer natural products and methods. Fireworks don't last very long, so I don't want to medicate my dog for hours for something that is over fairly quickly. 

🎇 When the fireworks start, be close by to comfort your dog and help calm her fear.  Speak softly and calmly, giving plenty of cuddles. It's a great time for soothing belly rubs or gentle massage too! Rubbing a dog's chest gently in slow circular motions usually has a great calming effect on dogs. Just like a back massage for people, it feels great for dogs!

🎇 Hopefully your dog has a "safe spot" to escape to when she's stressed or anxious. Make sure it's accessible and welcoming to your dog. A crate with a blanket or towel draped over it and a favorite toy inside might be helpful if your dog considers her crate to be her own little area. Leave the door open, don't lock your dog in anywhere, that will likely increase a dog's fear. 

My dog always runs for a closet or a tight corner of our bedroom when storms or fireworks frighten her. We give her free access to the spots she feels safest in.

🎇 Keep dogs busy with tasty chew sticks or homemade frozen treats made with ingredients they find irresistible. Or have a new toy you know they'll love, to distract them just as fireworks begin. Distraction and positive associations are the key here. Don't wait too long though, once a dog's stress is heightened, even the best treats or toys may not get their interest.

🎇 Some pet parents try to slowly desensitize their dog to the sounds of fireworks in the week prior to Fourth of July. I tried this with Icy once but it didn't help. She didn't make the connection between the sound of fireworks coming from my computer and the real thing once the 4th of July fireworks started in our neighborhood.  It can't hurt to try, though. 

Search for fireworks displays on YouTube and play the videos. The idea is for your dog to hear the sound of fireworks, quietly at first. Gradually raise the volume over a couple of days until they're very loud and see what reaction your dog has to them. The goal is to get your dog used to the sound of fireworks and give your dog treats to create a positive association with the sound of loud fireworks.

If your dog's stress due to fireworks is severe and none of these methods help, talk to your Veterinarian about alternatives. 


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Keep Dogs Calm & Safe on 4th of July


Animal shelters fill up every year over the 4th of July weekend because dogs and cats get lost in larger than normal numbers. If pets are not secured indoors they are especially at risk of getting lost.

🎇 Dogs frightened by the sound of fireworks have a tendency to RUN. They run in an attempt to get away from the loud, scary noise of fireworks. Sometimes they run so fast and so far they can't find their way home again.

🚗 Another reason dogs get lost over Fourth of July is when they are traveling with their family. If dogs are not in a secure area, or they aren't being closely watched, curiosity can cause a dog to wander off. In unfamiliar territory, it's easy for dogs to quickly lose their way and be unable to find their family again.

⛺ This is especially worrisome if you take your dog camping for 4th of July weekend.  Dogs can easily get lost in the woods! If you take your dog camping, be extra careful to keep your dog close to you at all times. Be aware of how your dog reacts to any nearby fireworks or other loud holiday celebrations.

📶Keep your dog secured and close by at all times. Make sure your dog has a collar with updated tags and if your dog isn't microchipped, please consider having her microchipped before the 4th of July weekend!

I feel like a broken record when I recommend microchipping dogs and cats. As an animal shelter volunteer I know how critical it is to have your pet microchipped. It's a terrible disappointment when a dog is brought to the shelter but there is no updated owner information on the dog. It's heart wrenching! Conversely, it's such a relief when a dog is microchipped or is wearing a collar with updated tags. Then we know we can get this dog Home!

My dog Icy has had an AKC Reunite microchip since she was a puppy. She's now 12 years old. It gives me peace of mind knowing Icy has a microchip just in case. Anything can happen to cause a dog to be separated from her owner. A microchip is probably the most important safety device you can have for your dog!

***If your dog isn't microchipped, please consider doing it Now, with 4th of July right around the corner. ***

Two things most people don't know about dogs that end up in animal shelters:

🐾 If an owner can't be identified, dogs and cats only remain in animal shelters for a very short time before they are put up for adoption. Usually just a few days! Can you imagine your precious furbaby getting lost, landing in an animal shelter, and before you can find her she's adopted out to someone else!? Believe me, it happens. More than you know.

🐾 Another thing most people don't know is that a dog isn't necessarily brought to the animal shelter that is closest. They may not even be brought to a shelter in the town or county where they were last seen! 

Lost dogs are brought to the animal shelter that has room for them. A dog could end up at any area shelter, depending on how full shelters are at the time. During the 4th of July holiday, animal shelters fill up fast. I hate to say it, but the animal shelter your dog ends up at may Not be a no kill shelter!

Have fun over the holiday weekend, but please keep these important Fourth of July Safety Tips for Dogs in mind as you and your dog celebrate America's Independence Day!

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Michelle & The Paw Pack said...

Great tips! My dogs grew up just outside of NYC, and if there's one good thing I can say about living there it's that the dogs got very used to loud sounds, fireworks included!

Kamira Gayle said...

These are wonderful tips for the upcoming holiday. I'll have to share this post with my dog moms and dads. I'm also glad that Icy is microchipped. I know she'll be safe and sound but always a great relief to know you are prepared just in case.

M Dawson said...

I read of someone on Twitter whose cat died of terror 'thanks' to local fireworks. Sorry but unless it's an official supervised display they should be banned I don't care whose civil liberties or celebrations I spoil. Lives are at stake - cat, dog, and wildlife.

The arrogance of people who smuggle fireworks into areas they are banned, the people who think it's FUN. Maybe we should scream continuously in your ears for four hours one night. See how you like being terrorised.

Tail Wag Wisdom said...

I'm a huge, huge proponent of chipping our dogs and cats as well. I also have to remind myself that they need to be kept up to date with current vet, your phone number, any medical condition, and backup contacts. I need to learn more about desensitizing dogs for loud noises such as fireworks. I use to desensitize my horses, I just haven't thought about it for Henry. Great article!

LaylasWoof said...

4th of July is one of the saddest days of the year for animals, both domesticated and wild and we are the selfish ones. I hate fireworks and in Israel this year all fireworks displays were cancelled respecting those that suffer PTSD.

FiveSibesMom said...

All excellent tips. I can't imagine folks not microchipping their pets these days, but it is such a good time for a reminder with all the fireworks and parties. I'll be Pinning and sharing! I hope you and Icy have a wonderful holiday. And I love those pics, especially sweet angel Phoebe with the glasses. <3

Drypaws said...

I was looking for this kinds of tips. Thank you so much for sharing with us.4th of July is really the saddest day for domestic and non domestic pets. I have read a lots of articles on that.

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