The Best Tips for Keeping Your Dog Safe on July 4th

A dog walking on the beach, proudly holding an American flag, celebrates July 4th.

The Fourth of July is a time for celebration. We plan barbecues and picnics for our friends and families, spend the day out on the boat or at the beach, and indulge and rich food and tasty beverages.

And of course, no Fourth of July is complete without a stellar display of fireworks. But while we are celebrating our independence, it can be a terrifying time for dogs, as most are petrified of the explosions, lights, and the smell of fireworks. This is why the time right after the Fourth of July is one of the busiest for animal shelters. They are inundated with runaway dogs who got lost and even injured fleeing from fireworks. According to Pet Amber Alert, animal control officers nationwide report a 30 to 60 percent increase in lost pets between July 4th and July 6th, with July 5th being the busiest day of the year for shelters.

And that is not the only danger. Hazards can show up right in your backyard.

Here are some tips for a safe holiday.

Make sure your dog has up-to-date identification.

The best way to protect your dog is to get him microchipped at the veterinarian and either attach an ID tag to your dog’s collar or harness or use a pet ID collar that has your pet’s name and your contact information right on it.

Also, take a new photograph of your dog just in case he happens to run away, gets spooked, or lost. Make sure you get a close up and full-body shot, along with a front and side photo.

2. Find a safe space.

If you are hosting a party, be sure that your house or yard is secure. Better yet, take your dog for a walk before guests arrive and then plan then keep her inside for the duration of the day. Provide her with a place she deems safe, such as a crate or a quiet room. If the room has a window, lower the blinds or draw the curtains. Keep the window closed and the air conditioning on. Also, consider turning on the TV or playing some soothing music to block the sound of fireworks. Relax My Dog is a service that provides relaxing music and TV for our besties.

Related: Study Unveils What Music Dogs Prefer

3. Alleviate anxiety.

There are a number of remedies to help our dogs decompress during the Fourth of July:

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4. Be careful with alcoholic drinks.

Be careful with alcoholic drinks. Don’t leave them within reach of your dog, and keep an eye on your guests. Alcohol intoxication can result in coma or death as a dog’s kidneys cannot filter or process the alcohol.

5. Lather your dog up in sunscreen.

Dogs may find human sunscreen tasty, but it can make them very sick. Ingesting sunscreen can cause drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst, and lethargy. If your dog needs some sun protection, use dog-friendly kinds.

This organic sun protectant spray is made of raspberry seed oil, a natural sun protectant, and aloe, which helps soothe your pup’s skin. When applied as directed, it offers a SPF rating of 20


6. Keep your dog away from glow jewelry.

Yes, it looks cool, but it can make your dog very ill. If your dog is a chewer, he can eat the plastic and cause intestinal blockages. The chemical that glows can also make your dog sick to her stomach.

7. Don’t put human insect repellant on your dog.

DEET, a common ingredient in human insect repellent, can cause neurological impairment. Instead, treat your dog with dog-friendly insect protection that are made with natural ingredients like lemon, neem, or peppermint oil.

8. Watch the grill.

A grill is a major danger zone for dogs. Your pooch can get injured by grabbing a hot burger, or she could dump a pile of burning charcoals all over all herself. Some matches contain chemicals called chlorates that can damage blood cells, impair breathing, and even cause kidney disease. Lighter fluid can inflame the skin; if ingested, can cause stomach upset and central nervous system depression; and if inhaled, it can cause breathing problems and even aspiration pneumonia.

9. Avoid feeding table scraps.

A small piece of plain hamburger or chicken (no bones!) is probably fine, but there are several common foods in a typical picnic that are harmful to dogs. These include: onions, grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts, avocado, chocolate, artificial sweetener, coffee, and citrus. Also, a sudden meal of excessively rich food can make your dog miserable later, especially older dogs with more sensitive stomachs.

10. Prevent heat stroke and exhaustion.

Too much sun and heat can make your dog very sick, especially flat-faced breeds, older dogs, or ones that have weak immune systems. Always provide your dog with shade and a way to cool off (and consider adding a self-cooling pad for extra comfort). Signs of heat stroke include excessive panting, rapid heartbeat, bright red tongue, thick saliva, weakness, dizziness and vomiting.

11. Secure your dog inside during fireworks.

Fireworks and dogs do NOT mix. The best way to keep your dog safe is to keep him away from fireworks of all kinds, including sparklers. Plan to have your dog inside in a safe place during any fireworks display, no matter how small.

The safest way to celebrate the holiday is to keep your dog at home in a secure, quiet spot. That way you both can have a happy and safe July 4th.

Related: Preparing for the Worst: How to Prevent Your Dog From Getting Lost and Never Found

By Jillian Blume

Jillian Blume is a New York City–based writer whose feature articles have appeared in magazines, newspapers, and websites including the New York Observer, Marie Claire, Self, City Realty, the ASPCA,, Best Friends Animal Society, The Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, The Pet Gazette, and many others.

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