Protect Your Pet for the 4th of July
Updated: Jul 2
While many two-legged beings welcome the booms of the 4th of July as the sounding of the unofficial kickoff of summer fun, the same cannot be said for many of our four-legged friends. For some, in fact, the sound is downright horrifying and terribly confusing, a potentially deadly combination. And to make matters worse, fireworks seem to start popping off earlier and earlier these days and linger longer and longer past the 4th.
The loud noise of fireworks that we humans understand to be harmless, and know will eventually stop, gets processed very differently in the brain of our pets. To them, that sound often signals danger…even when none exists.
Both dogs and cats have been known to break through windows, leap off of balconies and claw their way out of a yard, leaving the safety and comfort of their home, to get away from the frightening noise. Yes, that is entirely illogical when the noise is coming from outside. But it's also the scary truth. If you're among those pet parents whose "kid" doesn't seem to be phased by sudden loud noises, lucky you; you probably don't need to read this. But if you know your pet is fearful, or you're the least bit unsure, please follow these simple steps to reduce your pet's stress and increase their safety. This can literally save your pet's life:
1. Keep your pet inside.
While this precaution alone will not ensure your pet's safety for some of the reasons we've already mentioned, it's at least a very good start. If this is all you do, we'll just have to hope your pet can rely on their own ingenuity to find a spot where they feel relatively safe to ride out the "storm". But this is not all you can do. And if you've read this far, we think you're likely more than willing to do more; we think you're fully committed to protecting your pet. So, let's keep going.
2. Make sure your pet has multiple layers of reliable ID.
If you're a pet parent who takes their pet's collar off in the house because you think they'll be more comfortable, that is NEVER a good idea because you never know when they might need it. Or if you take it off because the sound of the tags bugs you, we'll just say this: If your pet ever goes missing, you will give ANYTHING to hear that annoying noise again. OK, this may be a larger discussion for another day because multiple layers of reliable ID are ALWAYS the best IDea. But on this day at least, please be sure your pet is wearing their collar and an ID tag with your phone number in case they escape the safety of their home. This is the fastest, easiest way to find you if your pet is found.
Still with us? Yay, you; your pet is clearly very loved. Now go make sure your pet's collar fits properly. Not too tight to be comfortable and not too loose to be reliable. If your pet's collar can easily be slipped over their head, that's too loose. If you can get two fingers between your pet's collar and their neck, that should be just right.
Next step, microchip your pet for backup protection. We're not too proud to admit that our pets outsmart us from time to time. If your pet finds a way to escape despite your best efforts to protect them, they may wriggle out of their collar during their getaway and a microchip may be their only ticket home. Make sure your pet's microchip is up to date with your current contact information and is registered with a company that participates in the online service PetMicrochipLookUp.org. With so many microchip companies on the market today, some good and some not-so-good, it's important to make sure that your pet's microchip can be looked up as easily and as quickly as possible so you can be notified.
Though not specifically in the ID category, and by no means failproof, a GPS collar is a tool deserving of serious consideration for added protection.
3. Create a safe spot for Spot.
Our pets are nesters by nature. And that dates back to the dawn of their creation. Lucky for us, their idea of a "den" can be just about anywhere where they feel safe. It could be a closet, under a bed, in the bathtub or, perhaps, your lap. It doesn't mean we have to provide them with a home that actually has a den. Ahhh, one of the many ways in which pets are superior to people. If you've been paying attention, it's very likely that your pet has already clued you in as to where he or she feels safest. Where do they go to nap? To tuck in for the night? In preparation for the 4th, make sure that spot is easily accessible and outfitted with your pet's familiar comforts - their bed, favorite toys, treats and plenty of water. Dogs may drool excessively when nervous, so plenty of water is a must.
Since water in means water out, and since it may be too scary-noisy to take your dog out for their usual nightly walk on the 4th, set up a temporary pee spot. A large trash bag spread out on the floor with newspaper on top may do the trick. But if that doesn't work, what's a little pee between such good friends? Pick a safe spot for your pet with flooring that's good for easy cleanup like a bathroom or kitchen.
If you're not quite sure where "X" marks the spot, try to think like your pet: Imagine where the quietest, most secure place in your home might be and steer clear of windows as much as possible. If your pet is comfortable in their crate, that could be the perfect spot. Just make sure the crate is parked in the quietest part of your home.
Providing quiet background noise with a television or radio can also be very comforting.
4. Desperate times may require more desperate measures.
OK, maybe not desperate. But if your pet's level of fear around loud noises can be off the charts, fear not; there's help out there. A whole industry category for pets popped up years ago based on the same concept of swaddling for babies. Yep, that snug wrap designed to protect human little ones against their natural "startle reflex". We've heard all kinds of pet tales about products like the ThunderShirt that have been a game changer for pets who are fearful of loud noises like fireworks and thunder. We think it's worth investigating.
If that doesn't work, or doesn't work alone, it may be time to add medication or CBD/hemp to your bag of tricks. Prescription medication will require a consult with a veterinarian. Even though CBD and hemp products are readily available without a veterinarian's prescription, it is essential that you discuss this option with your pet's doctor before diving in; cannabis products can react adversely with some medications your pet may already be taking.
5. If in doubt, staaaay home.
If your pet has extreme anxiety around loud noises, or if you have any doubt that they'll be OK being left alone, stay home. You may be your pet's only assurance that everything is going to be OK. Whatever fun you might miss, it isn't worth the risk of missing your pet. Period.
6. For added safety and peace of mind…
Take a look at the Help4Pets Pet Emergency Tag System (PETS). Our 24/7, nationwide emergency ID provides essential services that work in addition to your pet's ID tag and microchip, and in different ways, for your pet's total protection.