Fourth of July Fears and Safety

Independence Day brings may fun things – BBQ’s, swimming, get-togethers, and fireworks.

Who doesn’t like huge balls of fire that light up the sky with fun colors and shapes and make loud noises!

Unfortunately, a lot of animals don’t think that is as fun as most people do. But why?


There are 4 main reasons why animals don’t like fireworks:

  1. They are Loud – Animals have a more acute sense of hearing than humans so the booms, crackles, and whistles are very nerve-wracking
  2. They are Unpredictable – Animals don’t understand that we are celebrating – it is just another day for them. There are loud noises that come without warning and the flashing lights are scary.
  3. They Pose a Threat – The unpredictability of fireworks triggers an animal’s fight or flight response. Your dog might bark at the noises or try to run away and hide. He may show other signs of anxiety such as restlessness, panting, pacing, or whining
  4. Fireworks Make Animals Feel Trapped – If firework noises trigger your animal’s flight response, he may try to run away from the threat. This can sometimes lead to lost pets, broken fences (for horses or cows), and/or injuries.

How can we help these poor animals survive these frightening times?

In the case of dogs or cats it may be as simple as keeping them indoors with a radio or TV turned on to soften the jarring noises. If they are comfortable and have plenty of good treats and things to do, relocate them to the basement. However, sometimes this isn’t enough. If your pet is scared by fireworks, ask a veterinarian for help. There are medications and techniques to help dogs and cats during this anxious time.

Be sure to have a collar and ID tag on your pets in case they run away. All pets, even those who are indoors all the time, may become so frightened during fireworks displays that they may take desperate measures to escape the noise, including breaking through windows or screens. Microchipping them is a great idea as well since this is a permanent ID under their skin that they can’t lose. Be sure that the microchip is registered to with your current contact information, though!

Independence Day isn’t free from other dangers as well…

Another reason to keep your pets away from the often-noisy celebrations of summer is heat. Be sure to protect your pet from heat stroke. Never leave your pet in a parked car even if the day doesn’t seem that warm. The temperature outside may be 72 degrees, but the temperature inside a closed vehicle can rocket to a fatal 116 degrees in less than an hour. Dogs who have a short nose (brachycephalic breeds) are much more susceptible to heat so be sure to keep them as cool as possible. Don’t leave them outside for long and give your pets plenty of water.

The Fourth of July can be a fun time, but be sure to keep these tips in mind while planning your summer festivities so you and your pet can have a great Fourth!


Dr. Laura Vander Stelt
Companion Animal Veterinarian - Orange City, IA