July 4 pet safety: Helpful tips to protect your pets during fireworks celebrations

The Fourth of July is here, and many revelers enjoying the holiday break will celebrate by setting off fireworks. But the bright lights and loud noises can frighten pets and cause anxiety for some.

Loud booms from fireworks can cause your furry friends to panic and run off, which can be upsetting for pet owners, especially if they can't find them. And this isn’t unusual for a pet to go missing during the Independence Day break. The American Kennel Club explains that more animals go missing on July 4 and 5 than any other days during the year.

But rest assured pet owners, there are plenty of ways to keep your furry companion safe to make it an enjoyable July 4 weekend. 

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July 4 tips to keep pets safe

The Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter (WCRAS) in Texas told FOX 7 Austin Tuesday it's important to do the following:

Keep your pet inside, have music or the television on, and create a safe place for them to hide if they choose. Pet owners with dogs should give them a chew toy. You can also use calming shirts, "Rescue Remedy" drops, and other calming items. 

Make sure pets have ID tags and microchips

The Los Angeles-based Michelson Found Animals Foundation offers several tips to help ensure the safe return of a pet, should they happen to flee.

First, pet owners should make sure their dog is wearing an ID tag with your contact information. Owners should also make sure their pet is microchipped — and double-check that the microchip is up to date.

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A pet bulldog wears an American flag kerchief around its neck at a Fourth of July celebration in Santa Fe, New Mexico. (Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images)

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"Check that your pet’s microchip is registered and contains the correct name and your current phone number and address, otherwise there’s no easy way to reach you if they’re found," the foundation said in a statement.

Pet owners can register a microchip for free here.

Avoid leaving pets in cars

If you’re planning to enjoy a fireworks celebration, it’s important not to leave your pet in a parked car, particularly at night during fireworks displays.

Instead, it’s recommended to create a safe, cool quiet place like a bathroom for your pet to relax instead of a space like a crate.

Leave your pets at home

PETA stresses for owners to never bring animals along to watch fireworks displays. Instead, leave them at home indoors and never have them tethered or chained outside.

"They can hang themselves if they leap over a fence while trying to run from the noise. Animals can also injure themselves while trying to climb out of pens," the nonprofit said in a statement.

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Tire your pets out before fireworks celebrations

If it’s cool enough outside on July Fourth weekend, PETA recommends taking dogs for a long walk or to play at a dog park before the fireworks begin in an effort to help tire them out.

Try a calming aid

"To animals, fireworks really do sound like ‘bombs bursting in air,’" PETA President Ingrid Newkirk said in a statement.

To help reduce a pet’s stress and anxiety from the noise, there are a variety of medications and supplements that can help. Owners should contact their veterinarian early to determine which is best — as every pet and situation is different. 

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Wrap your pets up

Michelson Found Animals Foundation says that confining movement in dogs and cats actually has a calming effect on them. There are anti-anxiety wraps or coats made for animals — or even a scarf can get the job done in a pinch.

Check the locks

Prior to any fireworks display, make sure doors, gates and windows are all closed to help muzzle the loud sounds and prevent an escape.

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Keep festivities out of reach

Never leave alcoholic drinks unattended where pets can reach them, as those drinks have the potential to poison animals, according to the ASPCA. The same goes for citronella candles, insect coils and tiki torch oil products — as well as glow jewelry, which contains a luminescent substance that is highly toxic.

Editor’s note: A version of this article was originally published on June 23, 2020.

FOX 29 Philadelphia and FOX 7 Austin contributed to this story. This story was reported from Washington, D.C.