Starting this week, Philadelphians will be Welcoming America in celebration of our country’s independence. Barbecues, block parties, concerts, fireworks…we’ll be having a great, big, noisy time – but our pets have no idea what the fuss is all about! To help your pets stay calm and safe this Fourth of July, check out the following tips:

1.) Identification, identification, identification. Oh, did we mention identification? The single most important safety precaution you can take for your pet is to have up-to-date identification on your pet at all times. What does this mean? A well-fitting collar with an engraved tag stating your contact information, a microchip and/or a dog license. The more the merrier! Frightened pets have been known to jump through windows or push through screen doors in an attempt to flee perceived danger. An ID tag will help get your pet home in the event they run away.

→ Did You Know? Licensed dogs are more likely to be reunited with their owners, are given a longer hold time at the shelter and are in compliance with the dog license law. Best of all? Dog license fees save the lives of shelter pets by helping fund ACCT Philly! Get your dog licensed today, click here.

2.) Keep your pets inside, even if you have a fenced-in yard. This will decrease the chances of your pet escaping. Even if your pet has never bolted before, don’t take the chance; loud noises such as fireworks can make your pet behave in a completely different way. We see an increase in bite cases and stray pets after the Fourth. Keep them safe in a calm, relaxed environment like an upstairs bedroom or crate.

3.) Don’t assume your pet is ok with fireworks. Just like humans, pets can develop new fears over time. Just because your dog was relaxed last year doesn’t mean this year will be the same. It’s best to be prepared for the worst and grateful when nothing happens.

4.) Stay calm. Pets feed off of your energy, so if you are tense and appear concerned – your pet will think there really is something to be frightened of. Try to relax and send calming signals to your pet. Give them a positive experience to focus on like some yummy treats or playtime.

doggy

It’s OK to be nervous! Fireworks are scary.

5.) Never punish your pet for being afraid. This can make pets confused and more fearful. It’s normal to be scared of loud noises, and reactions can range from shaking, hiding or vocalizing (barking, howling, yowling) to digging through walls and doors and going to the bathroom in the house. It’s safe to say that pets will probably never understand why we humans enjoy firework displays, so until they do, let’s cut them a little slack.

6.) Drown out fireworks with white noise. If they can’t hear the fireworks (or hear them as clearly, anyway), your pets will be less frightened and less likely to act out in fear. Turn on the radio or tv to a noisy channel that will mask the scary cracks and booms of fireworks.

7.) Is your pet afraid of thunder? Expect the same from fireworks, because to your pet, they are both loud and scary. The good thing about fireworks is that you can make a plan in advance to help lower your pets stress level.

8.) Talk to your veterinarian. If you your pet has developed serious anxiety issues over fireworks or thunderstorms, your veterinarian may have solutions including medication or behavioral therapy.

9.) If you plan to be away, try to have someone stay with your pets during the fireworks displays. This way if your pet escapes, someone will immediately notice. Being in the company of a trusted friend will help soothe your pet and keep them calmer than if they were alone.

10.) Leave pets at home during firework displays. It’s not worth the potential dangers of your pet becoming lost or injured. Even if he liked them last year, remember this year may be different could trigger more serious anxieties. Enjoy the lights and the noise with family and friends and let fido & company relax with a radio and an air conditioner. Thank you on behalf of your pet!

11.) Try out a Thundershirt If your dog is stressed and anxious, a Thundershirt just might help. Thundershirts fit snuggly on your dog, applying even calming pressure which has been demonstrated to reduce symptoms of anxiety in most dogs.