More dogs go missing during the July 4 holiday than any other time of year, and July 5 is one of the busiest days for animal shelters, according to a press release from PetAmberAlert. This is why it's important to know how to keep your dog safe on the Fourth of July. Dogs (and cats) are extremely sensitive to noise, and fireworks can make many pets agitated, which in turn makes them more likely to run away.
"Try to keep your pet indoors at all times during holiday celebrations," Certified Pet Detective and Founder of PetAmberAlert Mark Jakubczak said, according to PetAmberAlert. "Ideally, someone stays home with your pet. If you must go out, be sure to keep your dog leashed."
Additionally, loud noises like fireworks can induce visible shaking, panting, and fear in dogs. If you don't have a compression shirt to reduce your dog's anxiety, you can easily wrap your pup up like a little hot dog using an ace bandage or a scarf. Trust me, it works. You know your dog best, so make sure to do whatever your dog needs to feel safe.
"Comfort your pets as needed and stay nearby if possible. Make sure they can access their crate or 'safe place," Jakubczak recommended. "If necessary, ask your veterinarian or local pet retailer about natural calming products, anxiety wraps, and other products."
The wrapping trick works because it applies constant pressure to specific parts of the body — kind of like swaddling a restless baby. Once your dog is properly swaddled, it's almost as if they have been put under a spell. In addition to making sure your dog has a safe space, Banfield Pet Hospital also suggests another thing that makes a lot of sense. "You may want to close the curtains and turn on the TV or radio to provide some distraction."
The dogs that are mostly likely to bolt during holiday celebrations are labrador retrievers, pit bulls, and chihuahuas, PetAmberAlert noted in an infographic. And, Fourth of July fear doesn't just apply to dogs. Cats can become distressed as well with Persian, Siamese, and domestic shorthair cats most likely to go missing.
Once an animal runs away, there is only a 14 percent chance that they will be reunited with their owner, and 30-60 percent are euthanized due to lack of identification. However, ID tags, microchips, and GPS trackers can increase the chances of you and Spot or Fluffy finding one another again.
Part of being a responsible pet parent is putting your dog or cat's needs first, even if that means opting out of holiday parties. "Unlike people, pets don’t associate the noise, flashes, and burning smell of pyrotechnics with celebrations," PetMD noted on its website. "Pets are terrified of fireworks, and often panic at the loud whizzes and bangs they produce."
If you're a new pet parent, and you're not sure how your pup will react to fireworks, it's best to err on the side of safety.
Even if you're hanging out at home, it's still important to keep your pet inside, turn on some fans, and turn up the radio or TV. "Even if your pet is used to being outside, the resulting panic caused by fireworks or other loud noises may make them break their restraint or jump a fence in a terrified attempt to find safety," PetMD explained.
Additionally, PetAmberAlert advised that you act like everything is business as usual. If you don't make a big deal out of the noise, your pet is more likely to follow your lead because they look to you for guidance. While this particular holiday can be stressful for pets and their owners, you and your squad can get through it with a little common sense and a lot of love.