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


The Fourth of July is a time for celebration — even if we are all social distancing. We plan barbecues and picnics for our friends and families, a day out on the boat or at the beach and lots of rich food. Of course, no Fourth of July is complete without a stellar display of fireworks after the sun goes down, even if we are viewing it from the safety of our home. 

But don’t forget: Most dogs are terrified of the explosions, lights and the smell of fireworks. And that’s why the time right after Independence Day 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 of 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.

Dog also face significant dangers from alcoholic drinks; tubes of sunscreen; insect repellent; glow sticks and jewelry; lighter fluid and matches; citronella insect repellent products and human food that is toxic to dogs.

It’s important to plan in advance and take precautions to keep your dog safe.

Here are some tips for a safe holiday.

Plan Ahead

Make sure your dog has up-to-date identification. The best way to protect your dogs is to get him microchipped at the veterinarian and to 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 either embroidered or silkscreened right into the collar material or engraved on a metal plate. It’s often safer than an ID tag attached to the collar, because it never falls off. It’s best to use both a microchip and an ID collar.

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.

If you are hosting a party (taking into account social distancing measures), be sure that your house or yard is secure. Better yet, plan to take your dog for walks but keep him inside for the duration of the day. Provide him with a safe place to weather the noise, like a crate or a room that’s the most soundproof. If the room has a window, lower the blinds or draw the curtains. Keep the window closed and the air conditioning on. Consider turning on the TV or playing some soothing music to block the sound of fireworks.

Related: Study Unveils What Music Dogs Prefer

Other helpful remedies to the kind of anxiety (and even terror) that this holiday can evoke in our furry best friends include:

Party Time

Be careful with alcoholic drinks. If your dog is around before the firework display, 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 because a dog’s kidneys cannot filter or process the alcohol.

Don’t put human insect repellant or sunscreen on your dog. These human products can be toxic to dogs. Dogs find 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, like Dug and Bitch’s Organic Dog Sun Protectant Spray with Red Raspberry Seed Oil.

DEET, a common ingredient in human insect repellent, can cause neurological impairment. Instead, treat your dog with dog-friendly insect protection like Dug and Bitch’s Organic All-Natural Insect Repellent for Dogs, Revolution, K9 Advantix II, or Only Natural Pet® Dog Flea, Tick & Mosquito Collar.

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

Watch the grill. A grill loaded with barbecuing meat and a dog can be dangerous. Your pooch can get injured by grabbing a hot burger, or he could dump a pile of burning charcoals over all himself. 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, it can cause stomach upset and central nervous system depression, and if inhaled, it can cause breathing problems and even aspiration pneumonia.

Avoid feeding table scraps. A small piece of hamburger or chicken (no bones!) is 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. A sudden meal of excessively rich food can make your dog miserable later, especially older dogs with more sensitive stomachs. Some of these foods, like raisins are grapes, can be fatal even in small amounts.

Heat stroke and exhaustion. Too much sun and heat can make your dog very sick, especially those flat-faced breeds. Always provide your dog with shade and a way to cool off (and add The Green Pet Shop’s Self-Cooling Pad for extra comfort). Signs of heat illness include excessive panting, rapid heartbeat, bright red tongue, thick saliva, weakness, dizziness and vomiting.

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. But it’s always a good idea to be prepared. And have a sparkling 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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