First rule of July 4: Protect your pets

Loud noises lead to lost animals

Our pets have many endearing qualities, but patriotism generally isn’t one of them. So, while you’re busy celebrating America’s 243rd with Fourth of July fireworks, they’re freaking out. That’s why July 5 has quietly turned into the busiest day of the year at U.S. animal shelters — where pets that ran off the night before turn up disoriented and exhausted. Or worse, they might end up simply wandering the streets.

Fortunately, it’s not hard to keep them shielded from all the Independence Day commotion.

“With a little care and preparation, the Fourth of July can be fun for people and safe for pets,” says American Humane President and CEO Robin Ganzert. “Let’s keep our best friends quiet and calm so we can continue to enjoy them come July 5.”

The AHA strongly recommends leaving your pets at home while you’re out paying tribute to whatever you can remember from middle school about the Revolutionary War. Cats and dogs aren’t overly concerned with Thomas Jefferson’s role in the Continental Congress. (He represented Virginia, by the way.) All they know is that the sky is exploding. Keep them inside, shielded from loud noises, with the windows closed and the blinds drawn in order to minimize the sound and flashes of light.

July 4 fireworks
Fourth of July fireworks light up the night sky. They can also prove terrifying for pets. (Ray Hennessy)

Better still — find someone to stay with them. A human presence can go a long way in keeping things calm. After all, pets take their emotional cues from people.

Nervous animals

Now then, if your pets seem especially jumpy during the other 364 days of the year too, perhaps it’s time to contact an animal behaviorist. They can advise you on behavior modification and positive reinforcement. That way you won’t have to go through this all over again next July. Over-the-counter products provide another option to soothe their nerves.

The JustFoodForDogs brand recently announced that they’ll give away more than 100,000 samples of their all-natural, non-narcotic ‘Calm’ sedative ahead of the holiday weekend.

“If there was ever a day for preventative care when it comes to our beloved dogs, Fourth of July is it,” says JustFoodForDogs Chief Medical Officer Dr. Oscar E. Chavez. “Our ‘Calm’ supplement is a balanced fusion of valerian root and passion flower that works to naturally enhance and increase the function of GABA receptors in the brain. This helps calm the nervous system.”

July 4 sights and sounds make July 5 the busiest day of the year for animal shelters. (Mikhail Vasilyev)

Chavez says all of the brand’s supplements contain high-grade ingredients certified for human consumption.

Finally, the weeks leading up to the Fourth are a great time to make sure your pets have proper ID tags with your current cell number. Don’t forget to update your microchip information as well.