Consider July 4th the Halloween for pets. Some don’t mind it; others want to run for the hills.

Dog hiding under bed

4th of July is scary for many pets, but you can help ease their fear

Though your companion animals may never see the 4th of July celebration as a treat, here are some tricks to make the upcoming days more comfortable.

  1. First, though you may want to celebrate with your entire family, chances are, your dog will be happier and safer at home. If your dog is comforted by the presence of people and loves the safety of a lap, see if someone can stay with your dog.
  2. Keep your windows and doors closed — both to block noise and to keep pets from escaping.  Keep fans on to help circulate the air and to mask fireworks noises. If it’s warm, be sure to leave the air conditioning on, too.
  3. Find a comfort zone that your dog likes and feels safe in. It may be a crate, a closet, bathroom or a small room with a favorite blanket. Some dogs prefer darkness; others like a light on.
  4. Give them something to play with or a special treat like a new chew toy or a Kong filled with spray cheese, peanut butter or frozen wet food to keep them occupied.
  5. Mask the noise of firecrackers by using fans (bathroom fans are great!), turning on calming (but loud) music or an action movie. If you have enough time, consider desensitizing your dog with sound therapies.
  6. Try a calming product. Our friends on Facebook have varied successes using items such as a ThundershirtDAP collarRescue RemedyProQuiet or Composure treats, and valerian root. (Be sure to consult your veterinarian before using these products.)
  7. In some cases, a prescribed sedative medication might be best– ask your veterinarian or call our vet clinic: 734-662-4365 for an appointment.

Also, please be sure your animals are in a secure, escape-proof spot.

“We see an increase of lost/stray dogs come into the shelter every time a holiday or event includes fireworks or even loud noises,” says Karie McMahon, HSHV Animal Intake Manager. “Dogs can panic, jump fences, chew through leashes and will look for an escape route just to get away from the sounds. It’s not uncommon for dogs to travel a great distance out of sheer fear.”

Check to see that your pets have appropriately fitting collars, up-to-date ID tags– and microchips. While people who find your pet will first look for an ID tag, sometimes collars and tags fall off or get torn off by fences. Microchips are a must; research shows you’re more than twice as likely to be reunited with your dog if he has a microchip– and more than 2000 times more likely to be reunited with your lost cat if she has a microchip. HSHV provides microchips for a nominal cost; call us at (734) 662-4365.

Finally, if your pet does slip away, call your local humane society or animal control facility right away.  If you live in Washtenaw County or Plymouth, call HSHV at (734) 661-3545.