You take your pet everywhere—to the grocery store, the drive-thru—so he’s undoubtedly coming to your Fourth of July cook-out too. Except, he probably shouldn’t. “What?” You cry. “But I wanted to show off Bentley’s star-spangled top hat! And it just isn’t a party until Lola’s muzzle-deep in the potato salad!” Although it’s hard to imagine a Fourth of July away from your pet, it might be time to (figuratively) loosen the leash, for reasons like wayward sparklers, tasty-looking lighter fuel, firecracker-curious children, and, above all, the deafening noise! Any animal sitting calmly through a fusillade of stroboscopic explosions is a strange one indeed. If you truly want to make this Independence Day enjoyable for all involved, here’s what to do:
1. Sad But True: Leave all four-legged family members at the door! Large crowds and shrieking fireworks are major stressors for pets, who may bolt blindly away and get lost. PetMD suggests sound-proofing your home (think noise-blocking curtains) for the truly noise-phobic, who might cower at the other summertime frequenter, the thunderstorm.
2. Furnish a Happy Place: About.com’s Veterinary Medicine submits that background noise, like the TV or even therapeutic dog music, provides ample distraction from the chaos outside. A kennel or a pet bed positioned strategically in the corner and away from windows acts as a sanctuary from all the “festivities” as well.
3. Let’s See Some ID: If you must venture outdoors with your pet for anything, keep him on a leash or in a pet carrier, or you’ll spend July 5th tacking “Missing Pet” signs to telephone poles. Double-check your pet’s ID tags to make certain they are up to date before the fireworks begin.
4. A Little Peace & Quiet: If you don’t mind missing the show, you and your pet can always scoot out to a more secluded place to enjoy the summer night. Somewhere rural, with a low concentration of houses and people, is preferable. Go stargazing, catch lightning bugs—bring the top hat, if you feel so inclined!
5. Noise Phobia: Consider the possibility that your pet might be noise-phobic. Veterinary Medicine lists trembling, excessive drooling, barking, howling, loss of appetite, loss of bladder or bowel control, and feverish attempts to hide in or escape from its enclosure as symptoms. If you suspect your pet might be noise-phobic, consult a veterinarian for treatment. With every new storm system that moves through your area, your pet develops the potential to exhibit worse and worse symptoms and behaviors.
Bottom line—don’t involve your pets in Fourth of July festivities. Playing frisbee is all well and good, but the moment the fireworks go off, the party will be over for your pet. Do your best to keep him comfortable, safe, and, most importantly, at home. After all, it’s only for one night!