For most of us, July 4th means family fun, barbecues, and of course, fireworks. For many of our pets, it means disaster!  

4th Of July Hazards

For starters, as you may have already noticed, many pets suffer from “Noise Phobias,” and literally start shaking in fear from loud noises such as fireworks.  Though the 4th is still several days away, the fireworks have already begun. What you may already be hearing far away, seems like it’s next door to your dogs! Their sense of hearing and their ability to pick up sounds of different frequencies is far superior to ours.  

Their behavior is classic—shivering and shaking, looking for someplace to hide, looking to you for comfort, and sometimes even trying to escape. Their anxiety levels are through the roof! Many will actually try to bolt out of an open door or window to try and find safety.  These pets are at risk for getting lost or being hit by a car.  

To help them, here are a number of suggestions—keep your pets indoors if possible, preferably in a secured and comfortable room.  Give him something to play with, possibly that will provide its own treats to keep him distracted.  It would also be wise to keep a radio or TV on with the volume up to help drown out the loud sounds.

Anxiety Relief, Supplements, And Medications

Though there are some medications and supplements that could help their anxiety, I recommend some non-drug solutions like the CalmZ Anxiety Relief System or a Thundershirt.  Other options are products like DAP collar, spray or diffuser for dogs, or the Feliway spray or diffuser for cats.  As far as some effective supplements, consider natural calming  products like Zylkene, or those with Melatonin, Chamomile, L-tryptophan, Valerian root, or even CBD, or speak to your veterinarian about medications like diphenhydramine,  or stronger prescription meds like Sileo, alprazolam, acepromazine, or diazepam.  Stress is very unhealthy for our pets, so whatever you can do will be helpful.

Collars, ID Tags, Microchips, And Fi

Given the fact that many pets can be so freaked out that they may find a way to escape out of fear. All of your pets should have collars, ID tags and microchips, even indoor-only cats. A door or gate could be left open accidentally during a 4th of July BBQ, or your pet can escape if they become frightened during a fireworks display.  Collars, ID tags and microchips are the best way to ensure that if your pet gets lost, he or she will be returned to you.

For your dogs, I highly recommend the Fi Collar which offers GPS capabilities to track your dog should he escape. Nothing can replace that peace-of-mind knowing you’ll easily be able to find a lost pet.

fi collar

Food Hazards

The 4th of July is known for apple pie and BBQ’s, but even delicious holiday food can be hazardous for your pets. Keep your pets away from hot BBQ grills that can easily burn them, especially if they are tempted by what’s cooking on the grill.

Animals should never have access to chocolate or alcohol. Bones, except for those specially treated and intended for canine consumption, should also be avoided.  Poultry bones can splinter and get lodged in the gastrointestinal tract.  Ham and beef bones can break teeth or cause intestinal obstructions.

On the subject of obstructions, another common culprit are corn cobs!  Dogs love to eat them, usually pulling them off of a plate or from the garbage, and they inevitably become stuck somewhere along the intestine, needing surgery to retrieve them!  

Though tempting, and always appealing to dogs, you should avoid giving your pet leftovers. Not only can this lead to obesity and encourage the annoying habit of begging, it can cause a pancreatitis attack. Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas usually caused by fatty foods, and is a serious condition that can be fatal if left untreated.

dog at bbq

If Your Pet Gets Lost


Though we all hope this would never happen, what should you do if your pet gets lost? Walk or drive around your neighborhood to look for them. Be sure to call out their name but they may not come to you if they are frightened. Contact your local shelters and call nearby veterinary clinics as soon as possible. Make flyers with your pet’s picture and post these around the neighborhood, in local pet stores and veterinary clinics, and around retail stores with high foot traffic, like grocery stores.

Follow these tips so that you and your pets can have a safe and fun 4th of July! This is where the Fi collar could be a true lifesaver.

Hope you, and your pets have a great, safe, July 4th holiday!

--Dr. Jeff Werber