The 4th of July activities may be fun for humans, but they can be frightening for our dogs. Between fireworks shows and noisy parties, the loud and unpredictable sounds can cause our four-legged friends to fear the fanfare as a threat - not a celebration.
Since dogs are our family members - it’s important to protect their welfare, so they can get through this anxiety-triggering holiday and continue to live their happiest, healthiest lives. Have no fear - we’re here to help you help your dog!
From tips for recognizing signs of anxiety to dog-friendly activities, here’s our guide for a safe and happy 4th of July - for you and your pets.
What should I do with my dog on the 4th of July?
As the saying goes, “a tired dog is a happy dog.” Remember to include your pets in safe 4th of July activities such as going for a long walk or playing a game of fetch in the morning. However, we do NOT recommend bringing your dog to fireworks shows (more on this below).
According to Veterinary Practice News, one of the best things to do is tucker out your dog with endorphin-boosting exercise. You’ll not only help them burn off extra energy, but you’ll also help alleviate their anxiety and potentially reduce their discomfort later in the day when the fireworks start.
Here are other dog-friendly activities to enjoy with your pets:
- Treat them with a refreshing smoothie or homemade “pupsicle” to help them beat the heat.
- Pool time in the backyard will keep them cool and engaged. If you don’t have a pool, sprinklers offer a similar engaging cool-down.
- Encourage them to play with stimulating toys. For example, DIY dog puzzles and treat dispensing toys are both interactive and a good distraction.
Can dogs have anxiety?
Yes. In fact, a recent study shows that more than 70 percent of dogs experience some kind of anxiety. Notably, noise sensitivity was found to be the top trigger for anxious behavior.
If you’re concerned about your dog’s anxiety, we’re believers that when we know why something is happening it’s easier to support our dogs through it. See below for the three categories of anxiety from the Merck Veterinary Manual:
This can range from fear of strangers and other dogs to fear of “novel” situations like car rides.
Dogs with separation-anxiety may urinate, defecate, or tarnish furniture when left alone or separated from their family.
Similar to the early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease in humans, senior dogs may experience disorientation and anxiety as their awareness, perception, and memory declines.
Why are dogs scared of fireworks? Are there ways to spot the symptoms of anxiety?
The combination of loud and startling sounds makes fireworks a common trigger for fear-based anxiety in dogs. Much like humans get spooked by an unpredictable bang or a pop - dogs experience a similar sensation. Plus, dogs have sensitive ears - about four times as sensitive as humans, reports Psychology Today.
Here are symptoms of anxiety in dogs to watch out for:
- Excessive urinating
- Defecating in the house
- Excessive barking
How can I help my dog with their anxiety during fireworks shows?
First, be sure to bring them inside and not to the fireworks shows. We also recommend letting them find a safe space they feel comfortable in and turning on familiar noises like the TV, music, or a fan.
Additionally, below are some other tips for calming your dog during fireworks:
- Talk to them. Your voice is calming, familiar, and can provide a great source of comfort.
- Close windows, curtains, and doors to minimize the noise as much as possible.
- Provide them with extra blankets for hiding and denning themselves.
- Make sure their ID tags are up to date just in case.
It’s also a good idea to ask your vet about other options to help your dog stay as stress-free as can be, as you and your veterinarian know your dog’s specific needs and temperament.
Other Safety Tips for Your Dog During Summer: Dos & Don’ts
While you’re here, these are additional tips to keep at the top of your mind as a pet-parent during the hot summer months.
- DO’S: Keep them hydrated, make sure they have shade, ensure they’re away from alcoholic drinks that can often be left outside during BBQs or pool days, and be mindful of the weather when you go on walks. Of course, these are things to pay attention to all year round - but especially in the summer.
- DON'TS: Shave your dog, leave your dog in the car, or let your dog walk on super hot blacktops. If it’s too hot for your hands, it’s too hot for your pup’s paws!
See our complete Hot-Weather Safety Guide For Pet-Parents.
The Takeaway: Doggos are part of the family, support your best friend!
The 4th of July is a tough time for pets, but your comfort and support can play huge roles in their overall well-being. Be mindful that in many areas fireworks and firecrackers continue to go off the weeks before and after the 4th, so it’s best to stay attuned to your dog’s needs and be prepared.