With summer in full swing, you are probably already making July Fourth plans. Independence Day marks the highlight of summer festivities, but your pet may not love this holiday nearly as much as you. Chaotic gatherings and loud noises can stress your pet, while rich picnic foods can wreak havoc on their gastrointestinal (GI) system. This July Fourth, plan ahead to make the holiday enjoyable for your entire family—your pet included.

#1: Create a safe space for your pet

More than 30% of dogs suffer from noise aversion, or a fear of loud noises. For these pets, the annual onslaught of fireworks, which can last the entire July Fourth week, causes terror and panic attacks. Affected pets may whine, pace, pant, or make desperate escape attempts, often causing home damage or self-injury in the process. Although large fireworks celebrations may be canceled, this won’t stop your neighbors from lighting off their own backyard displays. 

If your pet becomes anxious about loud noises, prepare for the holiday by making a safe retreat where they can go when things get loud. Choose an interior room corner, without windows, that is insulated from outside noises. Make the room inviting with a cozy bed and your pet’s favorite toys, and start taking them to their special space several weeks before the holiday season. Turn on the television, or play soft music to drown out scary sounds, and give your pet a long-lasting treat, such as a Kong filled with frozen peanut butter or a food puzzle, to distract them during the fireworks display. If these tactics don’t work, or your pet has become extremely anxious in the past, speak with one of our LaGrange Veterinary Hospital team members about medications that may help them relax. 

#2: Check your pet’s collar and identification tag

If your pet is outside when a neighbor unexpectedly lets off a firework, they might bolt, and become lost. Each year, animal shelters fill with pets who run away during chaotic picnics, parades, and fireworks disasters. Always keep your pet in your fenced yard or on a leash, and ensure they are wearing proper identification, in case they become scared and run away. Check that your pet’s collar is in good shape, and their identification tag is readable, and contains your current contact information.

#3: Have your pet microchipped

While an identification tag can help your pet return home safely, they may slip out of a collar, or someone may remove it. A microchip is a permanent identification form your pet cannot lose. The size of a rice grain, a microchip is implanted under your pet’s skin so, if they show up at a shelter and are scanned, you can be contacted by using their unique identification number. We can implant a microchip in your pet during a routine office visit using a needle and syringe that is no more traumatic than a vaccine injection. Since microchips have no batteries or moving parts, they do not wear out, and remain active for your pet’s lifetime. 

If your pet already has a microchip, stop by LaGrange Veterinary Hospital before the holiday, so we can check it, and ensure your contact information is current.

#4: Avoid a barbecue disaster with your pet

Although your July Fourth celebration may be smaller this year, it will undoubtedly include a table heaped with mouth-watering picnic favorites that will leave your pet drooling. But, before grilling up a feast, keep these pet dangers in mind:

  • Hot grills — Your pet may be so tempted by the grilled meat aroma that they will risk anything to snatch a burger, including a nasty burn. Don’t leave your pet unattended near a hot grill, including after you have turned it off and plated the goodies, as they  may try to lick the grates.
  • Barbecue grease — Many pets have needed emergency surgery to remove grease-covered rocks they gobbled up near the grill. Never throw out grill grease where your pet can eat it—drain grease into a sealed container that you dispose of in a closed trash can.
  • Kabob skewers — Pets will do crazy things to snag a tasty morsel, including swallowing an entire skewer. Your pet may not go to this extreme, but chewing up only the flavor-laden wood can puncture their GI tract.
  • Toxic foods — Keep in mind that many picnic staples may contain pet-toxic ingredients. Chocolate chips in your prized cookies, or grapes in the fruit salad, can make your pet seriously sick. Also watch out for raisins, alcohol, macadamia nuts, and xylitol.
  • Fatty foods — If your pet eats a plateful of rich, fatty food, or gets into trashed leftovers, they can end up with a bout of pancreatitis that requires hospitalization and intensive care for recovery. Ask guests to refrain from sharing their meal with your pet, and secure all leftovers in a covered trash can.

#5: Leave your pet safely at home

Despite the temptation to dress up your pet in red, white, and blue for your family and friends to fuss over, your furry pal will be most comfortable—and safest—at home. With crowds of strangers, unexpected loud noises, and a laundry list of picnic hazards, there are simply too many dangers that could result in a pet emergency, which would quickly ruin your holiday. Your pet will most enjoy curling up in bed, snoozing the day away, while you celebrate.

If you have questions about keeping your pet safe this July Fourth or, despite your best efforts, they end up in trouble, give us a call.