If this is your first Independence Day with your pet, you might want to stay home to monitor your pet’s behavior. Or if you’re an old pro and know that your pet will suffer from anxiety, here are some suggestions for making the 4th of July better for both you and your pet.

When I used to volunteer at the Pasadena Humane Society, I learned that the day after, the fifth of July, was their busiest day. One man was a regular: His very large and usually calm Akita busted through the fencing every Fourth of July. I might have suggested a crate, but you can’t keep a dog in a crate for 24 hours. You’ve got to let him out some time to relieve himself.

In my neighborhood, the neighbors have been setting off illegal fireworks for the last two weeks. Some neighbors have been concerned about the fire hazard and pet owners like myself have quickly learned how each pet reacts. Most of my collies have been relatively calm except they don’t like the smell of fire. That’s natural. Our youngest dog wants to warn us about the loud sounds because he’s our watch dog. So we’ve been lucky.

How to prepare your pet: 

  • Make sure your pet has ID tags.
  • Make sure you pet’s microchip information is current.
  • Train your pets to come on recall.
  • Train your pets to sit.
  • Train your pets how to behave when they encounter a stranger.

Should your pet get loose, it might not come back to you if excited or frightened. However, if your dog has been taught to sit and the proper way to approach a stranger, then your dog is more likely to be collected by your neighbor or animal control.

How to desensitize your pet to noise:

  • Use special desensitizing CDs such as Calm Pet or Sound Therapy for Dogs. The CDs, however, cannot replicate the vibrations or flashing lights that come with fireworks.
  • 1812 Overture with fireworks and cannon or other musical pieces composed for fireworks.
  • Thundershirt or Anxiety Wrap (for cats or dogs)
  • Get your dog accustomed to a T-Touch Wrap
  • Learn to make an anxiety T-shirt wrap
  • Consult your veterinarian and discuss the possibility of sedatives or overnight boarding if your pet may become easily agitated or stressed.

How to prepare your house:

  • Keep lights on.
  • Close curtains and windows.
  • Turn on fan to keep cool
  • Play the radio or TV

How to prepare a safe room:

  • You might separate animals, particularly ones that might react differently (e.g. cats and dogs).
  • Have comfort food (chew toys)
  • Have your pet’s favorite toys and place to relax available.
  • Use aromatherapy to calm (such as lavender, jasmine, rose, sandalwood or vanilla).
  • Remove sharp or fragile objects

Other precautions:

  • Do not take your pets with you to watch fireworks.
  • If your pet runs away, search the kennels of the shelter closest to you.