Keep Pets Safe on the 4th

Tips from OHS to prevent escape/loss on animals’ most-feared holiday

Few if any pets enjoy Independence Day. The fireworks that we humans find so thrilling can drive pets, especially dogs, to utter panic. Explosions (even miles away), high-pitched squeals and flashes of light can terrify an otherwise relaxed animal. If your pet is frightened by fireworks, you probably know the signs: cowering, trembling, hiding, even disorientation. Some dogs become so terrified they’ll attempt (sometimes succeeding) to crash through screen doors, windows or over fences.

Shelters get slammed over the 4th holiday every year, leaving countless families and animals separated and hurting. Some lost dogs and cats never make it home. OHS offers the following tips to help make July 4th safer and less stressful for pets:

  • Keep pets inside before, during and after the 4th. If you find a stray animal, please keep them with you until your local shelter is open and ready to receive them.
  • Make sure all pets, even indoor-only cats, have a collar and I.D. including your name and number. Microchips also recommended. Terrified animals become confused and disoriented, often ending up miles from home or deep in hiding. 
  • Walk dogs well before nightfall to prevent undue stress from noisy fireworks that start days before the 4th and continue after.
  • During fireworks, keep all pets securely inside. Sensitive dogs and cats should be put in a bathroom or other room with no windows and secure doors. Screen doors will hold up to a terrified, charging dog. Don’t take the dog to watch large commercial fireworks — it increases the chances of him becoming lost in an unfamiliar area.
  • In extreme cases, check with your veterinarian about tranquilizers. 


  • First, immediately check with your local animal control agency.
  • Post fliers with a photo and detailed description.
  • Check the neighborhood carefully. Lost cats have been found days later hiding under a bush in front of their own homes. For dogs, move well beyond the search area as a precaution.