Fireworks, grilling out–what’s not to love about the Fourth of July? For dogs, plenty. While some pets are blissfully unfazed by the festivities, many dogs are terrified of the loud noises and flashes of light. While you may never convince your dog that the sky isn’t falling, there are a few ways you can comfort and protect him this weekend.
Build a fort. If your dog is afraid of loud noises, make sure he has an enclosed, den-like place to hole up in while fireworks are going off. This is also a good plan if your dog is stranger-adverse and you plan to have a large number of party guests over. A crate is an ideal safe space. In a pinch, try clearing out space in a closet or under a desk or bed. If you don’t hollow one out beforehand, you may later find your dog wedged between your under-bed storage containers.
Play dress-up. Dog clothing is not just for teacup pups with painted nails. The pressure applied by garments can provide comfort to anxious or frightened dogs. The ThunderShirt is particularly marketed for doggy anxiety, but other clothes can work. A snug fit is the important thing. A few drops of lavender oil massaged into the garment also helps soothe frazzled nerves.
Turn down the heat. Everyone loves a warm weekend for the Fourth, but what is balmy for you could be sweltering for your dog. Dogs with thicker coats or pushed-in noses are at particular risk, so be sure to turn on the AC or a fan and fill up their water bowl to prevent overheating.
Don’t share. The safest place for your pet is inside, but if you bring Fido to the cookout, keep an eye on the scraps he’s nabbing. No table scraps at all is the best way to avoid tummy aches, but we all know that cute face is going to con someone out of their leftovers. One hot dog may not hurt, but make sure no chicken bones or other choking hazards make their way into the dog’s mouth, as well as chocolate or other poisonous foods.
Most importantly, when in doubt, leave your dog at home this Independence Day. Safely on their home turf is always the best bet. Shelters report this is their busiest time of year for lost pets running from loud parades and fireworks so please leave your beloved pets at home. If you feel guilty abandoning them for that party or parade, buy him a tasty new bone and plan to hit the dog park on the Fifth.