There’s nothing quite like the festivities, fun, and food of Fourth of July! And while you are busy planning for this exciting day, make sure that your pup is also ready to have a fun and safe time!
Amidst the busy (and loud) atmosphere of Fourth of July, some dogs may become nervous — especially for pups that are experiencing this summer holiday for the first time. This is why we’ve put together tips on how to keep a dog calm during Fourth of July. We’ll also cover safety tip sfor Fourth of July food and activities.
What’s in This Guide?
- How to Keep a Dog Calm Amidst Fireworks & Festivities
- Fourth of July Food: To Treat or Not to Treat
- Dog Safety for Outdoor Activities
How to Keep a Dog Calm Amidst Fireworks & Festivities
Dog fireworks anxiety is something that pet parents need to be prepared for during celebrations like the Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve. The loud noise and bright lights cause fear in many dogs.
Aside from fireworks and sparklers, other stimuli like loud music, popping bottles, and a slew of guests can also make a dog feel nervous. This can potentially lead to nervous behaviors like pacing, shaking, hypervigilance, hiding, whining, barking, and, in some cases, trying to escape.
Here is our checklist of things to do in order to keep a dog calm before and during the Fourth of July:
One of the best ways to prepare your pup for the Fourth of July is by desensitizing them to the sights and sounds of the holiday well in advance. In a nutshell, desensitization is the process of helping dogs get used to stimuli that may otherwise cause fear.
Try to gradually introduce the sights and sounds of fireworks, parades, and parties days before the holiday. Start with videos or audio clips played on a low volume and then gradually turn up the volume (staying within safe boundaries). In addition, help your pup form a positive association with these new stimuli by giving them treats and reassurance through the process.
Providing a Safe Space
As den animals, dogs derive comfort from having a familiar safe space that they can retreat to. Set up a quiet crate or room in your home where your pup can go in case the festivities get too overwhelming. It’s a good practice to place their favorite toys and other familiar items in this area. This safe space should also be off-limits to guests.
Planning Vigorous Exercise Before The Festivities
To help keep your dog calm and avoid dog fireworks anxiety, schedule a time for your pup to exercise and use up their extra energy before the festivities take place. This could be either a long vigorous walk or a visit to a nearby fully enclosed off-leash dog park.
Staying Calm Amidst Festivities
Once festivities have started, stay calm around Fido. Some pups take emotional cues from their owners and may get nervous if they sense that their pet parent is also nervous. A relaxed pet parent can also help keep a dog calm.
When Desensitization Doesn’t Do the Trick
Whether or not you’ve desensitized your dog to the sights and sounds of the Fourth of July, there will always be a chance that the actual sights and sounds will still scare them. If this happens, you can try the following:
- Close all blinds and windows to block out the sight and sounds of the fireworks & other noises.
- Drown out the noise with music, TV, fans, or air conditioners to help reduce the loud bangs.
- Use calming aids like ThunderShirts (i.e. calming wraps), lick mats, or vet-prescribed calming supplements and anxiety medication.
For any questions or concerns about how to keep a dog calm during Fourth of July, reach out to your local veterinarian. For pet parents in Denver, call us. Our friendly team at Sploot Vets will be more than happy to help.
Note: If you will be inquiring about calming medications for dogs, it may be best to do so as soon as possible — as there is usually a high demand for them before the Fourth of July.
Fourth of July Food: To Treat or Not to Treat
Now that we’ve covered how to keep a dog calm during the Fourth of July, it’s time to go into essential safety tips for your pup. This section talks about safe vs unsafe food during the Fourth of July.
Safe Treats for Your Dog
Guests may be tempted to give treats indiscriminately to dogs, with the intention of wanting to make the pup feel fully included in the festivities. Though the intention is great, this can lead to the accidental ingestion of unsafe food for dogs.
This is why we recommend pet parents stay one step ahead by preparing separate treats for their pup. In addition, pet parents can also ask guests to avoid sharing from their plates.
So what safe, tasty treats can you serve Fido for the Fourth of July? If your pup does not have allergies to chicken and beef, these are great meaty treats to prepare for them. We recommend unseasoned, cooked chicken or beef.
Note: Some seasonings and spices are NOT safe for dogs. To be completely safe, please avoid giving any kind of seasoned food to your pup.
For more ideas on healthy treats to prepare for your pup, check out our guide on homemade treats for dogs.
Foods Your Dog Should Avoid:
The following food items and ingredients are common in Fourth of July dishes — but these should NOT be given as dog treats because they are either harmful or toxic for dogs. This ties back to our recommendation: prepare treats for pups separately. This is the surest way to avoid giving unsafe food to dogs.
- Onions & garlic - these are toxic to dogs.
- Cooked bones of any kind - bones can splinter and split while chewing. Bone fragments can also obstruct (and perforate) a dog’s digestive system.
- Corn on the cob - these can become a choking hazard for dogs.
- Sweets of any kind - excess sugar or artificial sweeteners can upset a dog’s digestive system. One artificial sweetener in particular, Xylitol, is HIGHLY toxic to dogs.
- Alcohol and marijuana - though commonly paired with food or consumed during certain festivities, alcohol and marijuana are toxic to dogs. Even a small amount of alcohol or marijuana (including the smoke of marijuana) is harmful to dogs.
In case of accidental ingestion or exposure to any of the above harmful food items and ingredients, make sure to reach out to a veterinarian.
Dog Safety for Outdoor Activities & Swimming
Planning to do some outdoor activities for the Fourth of July? Here are some safety tips to keep in mind for your pup!
Getting an Immunity Boost for Your Pup
Going anywhere where your dog will meet other people and pets? If so, make sure your canine companion is up to date on their shots. Updated dog vaccination will ensure the safety of everyone, people and pets alike. Your pup will also be fully protected against a number of common transmissible diseases.
Watching Out for Dehydration
Whilst having fun in the sun, dehydration can sneak up on our canine companions — even when swimming. Thus, it is recommended for pet parents to bring plenty of water for their pups. Refreshing, cold treats like mashed bananas or watermelon (frozen in water inside an ice tray) are also great to have.
Pet parents are recommended to watch out for these signs of dehydration:
- Excessive panting
- Dry nose
- Thick drool
- Sunken eyes
- Tacky/Dry gums (gums that look pale, muddy, white or blue in color)
- Loss of skin elasticity (if you pinch your pups skin, and it does not immediately snap back to its place, it may be a sign of dehydration)
If your dog shows any of these symptoms, make sure to bring them into an air-conditioned space or in front of a fan. Offer small amounts of water every few minutes, and apply cool damp towels on their underbellies, their ears, and under their legs (in their ‘armpit’ area).
Final Thoughts on Celebrating Fourth of July with Dogs
We wish you (and your pup) a very happy Fourth of July! The above tips will help you and your pup have a safe and fun celebration. If you have any questions about how to keep a dog calm, dog fireworks anxiety, or safe vs unsafe food/activities for dogs, we recommend reaching out to your veterinarian.
Sploot Veterinary Care is always just a phone call away. If you have questions for us or if you need updated pet vaccinations before the Fourth of July, reach out to our team. We also offer daily appointment availability in all of our locations, 10 am to 10 pm (including holidays!)
Till next time, we’re with you every pounce of the way!