8 proven dog safety tips for the 4th of July

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More pets go missing on the 4th of July holiday weekend than any other time during the year. Why? The noise from the fireworks and firecrackers scares them and they run away, trying to hide from it all. To help your dog stay comfortable this 4th of July weekend, try these tips that have worked for me and my dogs over the years.

I love the 4th of July, said no dog, ever

1. Visiting or having visitors? Create a “safe haven” and keep everyone informed.

Whether you and your dog are visiting someone, or you’re having visitors at your home over the holiday weekend, don’t be shy about asking people to close doors tightly when coming and going; and close gates if they are entering or exiting the yard. Put up signs if you have to. Explain that more pets run away on July 4th other time of year.

If you’re having visitors, designate a specific area as a “safe haven” for your pet(s) which would be off-limits to visitors. If you leave your dog in the “safe haven” in the house, make sure you leave your dog lots of water and his bed so he can spend the time comfortably.

2. Danger everywhere! Watch out for cars, poisons, crowds and more.

It’s not enough to keep your pet away from fireworks, crowds and loud noises. Campfires and grills can be a danger if Fido is tempted to investigate the great smells. Cars and other vehicles can pose a danger, particularly because people can be in a hurry or driving in unfamiliar territory, and not paying attention to a loose dog or cat running around. Some foods such as raw onions, chocolate, raisins and celery are toxic to dogs. Beware of unknown or strange dogs, loud music, and open swimming pools.

3. Not into fireworks yourself? Help pooch deal with the noise.

If you’re like me, you might even prefer to stay home with your pets and hunker down for the evening! Designate a quiet area for you and your pet, and prepare to spend the night. Turn on some music or a TV. Close the shades and windows if at all possible, and turn on a fan or air-conditioner (the sound will mask any noises). I’ve lived on a lake for many years and there is an all-out semi-professional fireworks display every 4th July. I used to “hide in the bomb shelter” with my dog, Hobie who was terrified of fireworks. We would go into the basement with a fan, the washer & dryer running (bonus! I’d get a few loads of laundry done!), a good book, and a radio or music player with speakers. Another option I often chose would be to go to my office 5 miles away in the business district (closed on July 4th I would bring a sleeping bag and both dogs, and spend the night! Get creative! I look back on those July 4th escapes as some of my fondest memories with my dogs.

4. ID, microchip, photo – be prepared!

Even the most reliable pet can get scared and run during a loud party or when fireworks are going on. Make sure your pet’s ID is current, and your microchip is registered. Take a recent photo of your dog and keep it on a device so you can share it quickly if he or she becomes lost during the celebrations. Have your local animal control’s number available, and if there is a lost dog network in your area, have that number handy as well.

5. Try a thundershirt to help an anxious dog.

There are several brands of calming “shirts” on the market these days. I found that this calming product worked for one of my scaredy dogs, but not the other! Try it out on your dog, and make sure you get the right size for your pet. The shirts are easy to put on, and are designed to provide comfort and security in the same way as a baby bunting makes human babies feel more secure.

6. Calming supplements, collars or essences.

I try to steer clear of prescription drugs from the vet, but some pet parents use them for super-stressed-out dogs. I prefer the natural method. Do your homework and try a couple of different options to see which one works with your pet. There’s a great product called a Calming Collar which is a soft collar filled with lavender and other herbs. It smells wonderful! Flower essences have the same effect, and there are also pheromone products.

7. Keep calm and carry on.

Above all, if you stay calm, chances are your dog will stay calm, too. If you’re upset about the fireworks because you don’t like them… guess what? Your pet is going to pick up on that energy and agree with you. So, act as if it doesn’t bother you.

8. The next day can be dangerous – watch your, and doggy’s feet!

In our neighborhood, the fireworks are displayed on the community beach where our dogs like to swim. Dogs are allowed, and we pick up after ourselves… but the fireworks crowd may not reciprocate. I like to do a quick swoop of the beach, looking for possible un-exploded debris, plastic parts and other things that dogs might get curious about.

These are just some techniques that have worked for me. Feel free to share your suggestions in the comments, and have a safe and happy 4th of July!

K.S. Mueller is pet-mom to 3 dogs and 3 cats, and writes about them in her spare time from her “real job” as a travel executive. Visit their blog at: www.k2k9.com.

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