Pet-riotic Advice For July 4

07-02-14 fourthofjulybbqAs temperatures start to sizzle, the Animal Rescue League and Boston Veterinary Care want to help dog owners keep their canine companions healthy and safe in the summer heat and bustle of activity this July 4th.

When we think of the 4th of July the first two things that come to mind are barbecues and fireworks. Let’s first address why backyard barbecues can pose problems for dogs. The smell of food, a large group of adults, playing kids, and other excited pets can easily overstimulate a dog, increasing the potential for poor behavior and bites. And don’t forget to keep those barbecue skewers our of paw’s reach!

“Leaving your dog at home as you head out for holiday activities and events is the best thing for you and your pet,” says ARL president Mary Nee.  “Prevention is responsible pet ownership.”

Second, while we humans love a good fireworks display, our pets find it absolutely terrifying. The loud popping and banging noises and fiery flashes of light easily startle and alarm dogs.

To ensure that your 4th of July holiday is fun for you and less stressful for your pet, here are a few tips:

  1. Rupert PatrioticKeep small pets indoors preferably in a room with the shades down. You can turn on the TV or radio to provide some distraction.
  2. Have your pet on a leash or kept in a carrier if you must be outside with them.
  3. Be aware that some pets become “fearfully aggressive” due to loud noises. Protect your pets from people who are waving sparklers or setting off home fireworks.
  4. Never punish your pet for his fearful behavior, but don’t reinforce the behavior by trying to sooth your pet with ‘it’s ok’ or similar words.  Paying attention to your pet may positively reinforce the fearful behavior.

Many animal shelters report increases of “stray” animals after the July 4th holiday due to the number of pets running away in an attempt to avoid the noise and excitement. Be sure that your pet has a current ID tag and/or microchip so that you and your pet can be easily reunited in the case he or she runs off.

If you believe any of your pets has a noise phobia, talk with your veterinarian about the best ways to keep your pet safe during the holiday.

Lastly, if your pet must travel with you this July 4th remember never to leave your pet in a parked car.

“On an 85 degree day, the temperature inside a parked car can top one hundred degrees in less than 10 minutes – even with all the windows cracked,” explains Boston Veterinary Care’s Dr. Shophet.  “That’s why leaving a pet inside a parked car is the most common cause of potentially deadly heat stroke.

Visit for more pet safety tips.