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Tips to Help Your Pet Have a 4th of July Free From Fear!

4th of July may be fun and exciting for humans, but it is anything but for pets! The quintessential traditions of July 4th - big crowds, loud fireworks, busy streets - can all be very stressful triggers for pets.

In this blog post you will learn the different ways you can support your pet through the 4th of July to keep them safe and comfortable! Implementing these accommodations and staying mindful about how the events of this holiday may impact your pet will help them experience a 4th of July free from fear!

Tips to Help Your Pet Have a Fourth of July Free From Fear

Ensure Your Pet's Microchip Is Updated

It's extremely common for pets who are frightened by fireworks and other typical July 4th celebrations to panic and run away in an attempt to flee the perceived threat. In fact, more pets become lost on July 4th than any other day of the year. As part of your holiday preparations, it's important to make sure the contact information associated with your pet's microchip is current so in the event they do become lost, you are able to be contacted by the finder. Unlike collars and ID tags, microchips cannot fall off and are responsible for successfully reuniting countless pets with their families - but this is only possible if the contact information linked with the microchip leads back to you! If you have questions about how to update your pet's microchip information, call our office!

Leave Your Pets At Home

While it may be tempting to include your pet in your holiday celebrations, it's the case for most pets that they will be happiest and safest if they're left out of the party. Pets that are brought into overwhelming and unfamiliar environments may become frightened, causing them to back out of harnesses/collars, escape backyard enclosures or present with fear-based aggressive behaviors. It's best to keep your pet in a secure, familiar environment protected from the chaos of celebrations rather than immersing them into large crowds full of unfamiliar things.

Create a Safe Place

It can be helpful to setup a 'safe space' confinement area within your home that will act as your pet's comforting home base throughout July 4th festivities. If you are hosting a gathering at your home, it may be a good idea to keep your pet confined within this safe space while guests are present.

Things to consider when creating a safe confinement space for your pet:

  • it should be a quiet space away from high foot-trafficked areas

  • the area can include a crate (with the door left open), but a crate shouldn't be the safe space if your pet dislikes the crate or becomes panicked when crated. Instead use gates such as an x-pen to create a sectioned off area

  • include background noise such as TV or music

  • any windows or glass doors in this space should be closed and the blinds should be drawn

  • provide your pet plenty of self-entertaining activities in this space. The type of activities you provide will depend on what your pet likes to do. For ideas, click here to access a comprehensive enrichment guide

  • spray or diffuse calming pheromones. If you haven't heard of calming pheromones, click here to learn more

Reduce Sound

One of the most stressful components of July 4th for our pets is the intense sounds created by all the firework displays. Muffling this noise is one of the best ways to reduce your pet's stress during the 4th. Ways to reduce July 4th noise for your pets include:

  • keep all the windows and doors closed

  • draw curtains and blinds

  • keep background noise on - tv, music, white noise machine

Consider Anti-Anxiety Medications

For some pets who have more severe presentations of sound sensitivity or phobia, situational anti-anxiety medications can be extremely helpful in controlling stress levels during trigger events like firework displays. These medications are given orally and last for a short time (about 12 hours). They work to reduce anxiety by controlling cortisol levels (stress hormones) in the body, keeping pets out of the fight or flight state that's associated with panic. Call our office to discuss whether these medications may be right for your pet or to request a refill if your pet is already prescribed these medications!

Calming Supplements

In addition to anti-anxiety medications, there are also several stress-reducing nutraceutical options that can aid in your pet's relaxation, such as Composure Pro Calming Treats. This product uses a combination of naturally occurring, stress-reducing vitamins and amino acids to promote relaxation and calm behavior. We sell Composure Pro in our hospital as well as through our online store. Purchase your pet's calming treats today!

Offer Calming Pheromones

Pheromones are natural chemicals pets release into their environment in order to communicate with one another. These 'scent messages' are odorless to people yet powerful for our pets. Each scent message carries a significant amount of information that influences the mood and behavior of the pets who come into contact with it. Every species has a unique set of pheromones they're capable of depositing into their environment, and the type of pheromone an animal chooses to deposit is dependent upon the situation and what exactly they're trying to convey - feelings of safety and comfort, territorial warnings, fearful alerts, etc.

Both dogs and cats alike have a particular pheromone geared specifically towards relaxation that conveys messages of happiness and security to members of the same species who encounter it. Commercial calming pheromone products are synthetic versions of these natural 'happy messages' and they have a profound effect on nervous, fearful or stressed pets.

Calming pheromone products are available in several forms including a wearable collar, a room diffuser and a spray. Visit our office or our online pharmacy to purchase your pet calming pheromones for July 4th!

To learn more about calming pheromones, visit our blog post Pet Pheromones: A Natural Approach to Promoting Calm Behavior

Be Aware of Pet Dangers

Although we recommend leaving your pets at home, if Fido does end up joining the party, it's important to be aware of the dangers common July 4th activities can present for pets:

Glow Sticks: Glow sticks are a common party favor that are very unsafe for pets and unfortunately resemble a chew toy. Be sure to keep glow sticks out of reach from your pets!

People Food: There are many cookout foods that are toxic or dangerous for pets including grapes, raisins, onions, garlic, corn cobs, fatty meats, xylitol-containing snacks and alcohol. Be sure to bring plenty of your pet's food/treats with you so that you have a safe alternative to feed them!

BBQ Skewers: Many pets become seriously injured by accidentally ingesting a bbq skewer that's hidden in the tasty snack they swipe off the picnic table. Be mindful to keep these cooking tools far out of reach from your pets.

Open Flames: Grills, outdoor candles and bonfires are typical components of outdoor gatherings and can pose a serious threat to pets, who are unaware of the danger fire presents. Use gates and other environmental management tools to keep pets several feet away from any open flames.

Heat Stroke: Stay mindful of the weather and temperature. Unlike humans, pets cannot sweat which makes it difficult for them to regulate their internal temperature. It's imperative for pets to have ample access to shade and water on hot days, and may need to stay indoors if temperatures are particularly high. Pets who are brachycephalic (smoosh-faced) are at an increased risk for over-heating and should be watched especially close.

Fear, Anxiety and Stress: Monitor your pet for signs they're feeling uncomfortable with their surroundings. By catching discomfort in its early stages you're able to intervene and get your pet to a more secure setting before their discomfort and expressions of fear escalate. Early signs of discomfort include: moving away, ears pinned back, excessive yawning, licking of lips, dilated pupils, excessive panting, pacing. Moderate signs of discomfort include: tail tucked tight against body, tense body, whale eyeing (similar to a 'side eye'), lifting lips, cowering, hiding. Severe signs of discomfort include: shaking, frantic attempts to flee, growling, lunging.

Have a Plan

Many veterinary facilities are closed for July 4th, so your typical source of veterinary care may not be available should your pet experience an emergency over the holiday. In preparation for the holiday, familiarize yourself with emergency veterinary hospitals in your area that will be open and accessible. Consider posting their contact information on your fridge or adding it into your cell phone for easy access in the event of an emergency!

If you are a client of Epping Road Veterinary Hospital, we will be closed July 4th through July 7th and will reopen on Monday, July 8th. If you are in need of urgent pet care over the holiday and are located in the Seacoast New Hampshire area, please refer to the contact information for local emergency hospitals below:

231 Corporate Dr, Portsmouth, NH 03801

(603) 433-0056

15 Piscataqua Dr, Newington, NH 03801

(603) 430-7387


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