4th of July Dangers

For many of us, July 4th is a day celebrated with barbeques, outdoor activities, and fireworks.  However, for our pets, this can be a time of heightened anxiety.  Many pets suffer from separation anxiety and noise phobias.  While this may not bother some pets, in others, it can lead to serious injuries.

Signs of anxiety:

  • Panting
  • Trembling
  • Hiding
  • Vocalizing / whining
  • Drooling
  • Aggression

If you think your pet may be experiencing signs of anxious behavior, it is important that you discuss options with your veterinarian.  This should be done in advance and well before any potential triggering events.  In some pets, medication may be needed.  Do not use your own prescriptions as dosing is very different for animals and certain medications may not be tolerated in animals.  Instead, consult with your pet’s veterinarian.

Some options for anxiety:  

  • Pheromone sprays and collars
  • Pressure wraps (Thundershirts or Anxiety wraps)
  • Over the counter calming supplements
  • Prescription medications (obtained from your veterinarian)

With excessive noise outside, bring your pets inside, whenever possible.  If your pet associates their crate as a safe place, allow them access to the crate in a quiet location of the house.  You may consider turning on soft music to help lessen the outside noise.  It is important to have your pet’s ID and collar on at all times and consider having your pet microchipped in case they slip out of the house or yard.

Unfortunately, there may not be one single solution for your pet’s anxiety to noises that the 4th of July brings.  A combination of medication and behavior modification may be needed.  If not conditioned early on in life, often, noise phobias can be managed, but not cured.

It may help to plan a pet-safe gathering, making sure that your pets do not have access to any human food or garbage.

Some foods to avoid:

  • Corn on the cob
  • Grapes
  • Chicken bones
  • Chocolate
  • Alcohol

Ingesting any of these items can lead to your pet spending the holiday with the veterinarian.  Always be prepared and pet-proof your table of treats.  Sometimes, despite our best efforts, our pets still manage to gain access to these items.  In the event your pet should ingest a potentially harmful substance, contact Pet Poison Helpline® (https://www.petpoisonhelpline.com) and have the phone number to your veterinarian and local veterinary emergency clinic available.


Written by: Seana Juliano, DVM student extern, Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, Class of 2023