Red, Woof, and Blue: Ensuring a Safe and Stress-Free Fourth of July

 Backyard parties, BBQs, friends, family… and fireworks. If this doesn’t sum up the quintessential summer holiday of Independence Day, we don’t know what does. But in addition to celebrating our freedom, the Fourth of July can mean safety issues for our beloved pets.

While it’s natural to want to include our furry loved ones in all celebrations, these same fun events can often mean fear, anxiety, and even a pet medical emergency for them. The Fourth of July can be fraught with dangers for pets, but with some preparation, you can avoid a trip to The COVE emergency room this season.

Advance Planning for the Fourth of July

The day after July 4th is the busiest day of the year for animal shelters, according to the American Humane Society. Each year, shelter staffs intake hundreds of lost and terrified pets who jumped backyard fences or broke their leash to escape fireworks noise and chaos.

Start preparations before the big holiday event to ensure your pet stays safe:

  • Ensure your pets have current ID tags and that their microchips are registered with your contact information. To double-check that your contact information is current, visit the American Animal Hospital Association’s Universal Pet Microchip Lookup Tool at

  • If your pet is not microchipped, call your primary care veterinarian ASAP to have one placed. A microchip is your pet’s best chance of a reunion with you should they become lost.

  • Walk the perimeter of your property to ensure your yard and fences are intact to reduce the chances your pet will escape. Also, make sure that screens are secure and doors are shut.

  • If your pet suffers from anxiety, purchase a pet anxiety wrap such as a Thundershirt. An anti-anxiety pet wrap applies gentle, steady pressure and has a calming effect. In a pinch, a snug-fitting t-shirt can work the same way.

  • Call your primary care veterinarian if your pet has had severe anxiety or noise aversion in the past. A prescription may be available to help your pet relax. Additionally, a referral to a board-certified veterinary behaviorist could help your pet conquer their fear.

Keeping Pets Safe

Emergency veterinary teams dread the Fourth of July because they know that this is one of the busiest and most dangerous for pets. Follow these tips to avoid spending the day or night at the emergency clinic, and keep your pet safe and healthy.

Leave them at home. We know, we know. It’s so much fun to celebrate with our pets at our side. But if your plan includes fireworks, large crowds, or spending time in the hot sun, do your furry best friend a favor and leave them at home. The risks of a pet running away, getting burned, or ingesting toxic foods are just too high. The safest place for pets on the Fourth of July is indoors, at home. Don’t worry – they’re not missing out!

Avoid new dog socialization. If you’re hosting a celebration at your home, encourage your guests to leave their pets at home. The COVE sees a ton of injuries from dog fights on the Fourth of July due to “stranger” dogs intermingling and fighting for resources. Pets are already anxious and stressed, and adding socialization on top of all that can exacerbate already big feelings.

Create a safe space. Create a quiet haven for your pet in a small bedroom, bathroom, or laundry room. The area should include your pet’s crate or bed, toys, treats, a water bowl, a litter box, a fan or air conditioning (if needed), and other essentials. Many pet parents also have a white noise machine to mask the sounds of fireworks and other holiday noises. If you’re home, visit your pet often to give them reassuring love and attention.

Offer distractions. Some pets will do better during the festivities if provided with a distraction. Many pet parents fill a Kong chew toy with peanut butter (check the label to ensure no xylitol) and freeze it for a few hours. Give it to your pet as the festivities or fireworks begin. Check on your pet often, any time they have a treat or chew toy.

Keep guests informed. You may know the dangers of even a bite of bratwurst for your pets, but your guests may need to learn the risks, too. Ensure your friends and family know the rules and are on the same page regarding your pets. Post signs on doors and gates to alert visitors that they should keep them closed to prevent pets from escaping. Also, let them know that feeding your pet table foods and scraps is off-limits.

Avoid burns, poisonings, and trauma. Emergency animal hospital teams know that noise aversion is not the only risk of fireworks. Pets are curious about new objects, and each year veterinary emergency clinics treat them for nose, mouth, and paw burns when they get too close to fireworks. Fireworks get very hot quickly, and pets can be seriously injured by live fireworks or spent cartridges on the ground. In addition to burns, the chemicals contained in fireworks are highly toxic, even lethal. Prevent your pets from chasing lit sparklers, and make sure any fireworks are always out of pets’ reach. 

Prevent tummy trouble. Those puppy dog eyes are hard to resist but avoid giving your pets any human food or giving them access to the BBQ (grease pan, anyone?). Fatty foods can cause gastrointestinal upset or pancreatitis. Alcohol, chocolate, xylitol, onions, garlic, raisins, and grapes are toxic to pets. Bones can splinter and get lodged in your pet’s GI tract, requiring surgery to remove them. Stick to your pet’s regular diet and avoid spending time in the pet emergency room.

Monitor sun exposure. The weather is starting to warm up, and although it’s not overly warm yet, it’s always wise to limit heat and sun exposure for your pets. Too much sun and heat can cause heat exhaustion or heat stroke, not to mention sunburn (yes, pets can get sunburned). Watch for pale or dark red gums and tongue, panting, restlessness, staggering, or confusion. To avoid heat exhaustion, offer cool, fresh water and shade, and restrict exercise to mornings and evenings when the sun is not at its strongest. Never leave your pet in a parked car, even in the shade.

The COVE is always here 24/7/365 if your pet gets into trouble and needs emergency care. Please call us if you are on your way so we can prepare for your arrival. And, if you have questions about Fourth of July safety and your pet, don’t hesitate to contact our team. We are here for you!






About Us

The COVE’s veterinarians and staff wholeheartedly embrace the core values of community, collaboration, commitment, compassion, and integrity. This focus ensures that pets, the people who love them, and their primary care veterinarians have as positive and affirming a healthcare experience as possible, regardless of the circumstances that bring us all together.