Protect Your Pets on the Fourth With These Tips

Billion Photos /
Billion Photos /

It’s almost too predictable. Photos of July 4th fireworks posted all over social media during displays are followed the next day by frantic “missing pets” posts. Why do our pets fear fireworks, and more importantly, how can we keep our furry friends safe and calm while we celebrate? 

Have you ever wondered why our pets dread fireworks? Their ears are finely tuned, making loud bangs downright painful. They can’t grasp where the noise comes from or when it’ll end, leaving them on edge. Naturally, sudden loud noises trigger their primal fear response. And if they’ve ever bolted in fear during fireworks, that memory can haunt them, turning fireworks into a full-blown phobia. 

New pet owners beware: if your pet is afraid of thunder, chances are that they will also be terrified during a fireworks display. For those who already know their pets are afraid of July 4th, the entire evening becomes a dreaded ordeal.  

Here’s how to keep your pets safe and calm as July 4th celebrations explode around them. 

Keep Pets Indoors 

This is an obvious one – keep your pets inside during fireworks displays. Close and lock pet doors so they remain inside throughout the night, and if they must go outside, keep it short. Dogs have an uncanny ability to escape when frightened, so make sure you have them on a leash if they need to go outside. 

And remember, just because you want your dog with you for a fireworks display doesn’t mean they want to be there. Leave Fido safely at home. 

Safe Spaces 

Draw the curtains and pull down the blinds so your pets aren’t even more terrified by the display. Give them a safe hiding spot, like a quiet room, corner, or crate. Don’t lock them inside if they hide in their crate – keep it open so they don’t feel trapped.  

If a pet retreats under a bed, leave them there. It’s natural for frightened animals to find small, dark areas to hide in until a perceived threat has passed. 


Pets can often be distracted by playing with a favorite toy or being given a treat puzzle. If you don’t have a treat puzzle, tie old socks together and place their favorite treats under each knot. 

Surround the pet with background noise, like a TV or radio. Stay with them throughout the night and reassure them with gentle, calming words and cuddles until the displays are over. 

Lastly, consider a long walk with your dog to mentally and physically tire them out before the events get underway. 

Calming Treats or Vet Prescriptions 

Almost all pet stores offer calming treats, usually made with CBD oil or other naturally occurring calming substances like lavender. Most pet stores also sell diffusers that can plug into the wall and spread calming pheromones throughout your pet’s space. 

Your veterinarian will happily prescribe a mild sedative, but over-the-counter medications like Benadryl may have the same results. Always Google before self-medicating a pet with over-the-counter options, but diphenhydramine, the essential medication in Benadryl, is considered safe for nearly all pets. 

Benadryl dosing is generally 1 mg per pound for dogs and cats alike. Smaller pets may benefit from the liquid form of Benadryl, but larger ones can easily take a cheese-wrapped tablet.  

Remember to keep an eye on a sedated pet and watch them on stairs or elevated spots like beds and couches. 


ThunderShirts are compression garments specifically designed for pet use. They will wrap your dog in a “hug” and help to keep them safe. Make sure to put the shirt on them before the fireworks begin to avoid confusing and frightening your pet even more once the noises start. 

Some dogs may not like the ThunderShirt, so try it on them a few times before you need it to gauge their reaction to the garment. 

ID Tags and Collars 

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, our pets still escape. Keep a collar with an ID tag on your pets throughout the night, even if they don’t usually wear one inside. 

While not all dogs experience the same levels of terror during fireworks displays, nearly all display signs of anxiety, such as pacing, clinginess, and excessively licking their paws. Following these tips will help you ensure that, while not enjoying the holiday the same way that you do, your pets will at least be safe and calm by your side.