The Fourth of July can be the most stressful time of year for them. 

By Katherine Owen
July 03, 2018
Robert Radifera/Charlotte Safavi
Robert Radifera

Imagine if you had no way of understanding fireworks; if you don't know that they're controlled explosions, meant for entertainment and celebration, they're just bright, and very, very loud. Unfortunately, that's all they are to household pets, resulting in sad, skittish, anxious dogs and cats.

While the 4th of July feels like the perfect time (well, aside from the heat) to gather everyone up and hang out outdoors—grilling, swimming, and waiting on fireworks—it can be a perilous time for pets to be outside. According to, more pets go missing around the 4th than any other time of year. It's only fair that if they hear something scary, they're going to try to run as far away as possible. That's why it's extra important to keep pets calm, and take measures to protect them from themselves during this time. Here, a few tips to keep dogs calm, and maybe even happy until the fireworks are over.

Keep them inside, at home.

The ideal place to be for an anxious dog to be is indoors, in a familiar place, with you. If you're headed to a neighbor's house for the holiday, be sure to leave them at home. If your four-legged family member is traveling with you for the holiday, be sure they stay inside during the fireworks show. Furthermore, if they're prone to destruction or escaping when anxious, crate them while not supervised.

Make sure they have access to their most favorite spot.

If they're at home for the holiday, make sure they have easy access to their "safe space," be it their crate, your bed, or anywhere they feel secure.

Create ambient noise.

Play music or a white noise machine to help dilute the sound of the fireworks. If they're used to the TV, that could also provide a comforting background noise. Close windows and doors, both to minimize noise and their chance of escape.

Try a ThunderShirt.

Much like swaddling a baby, this jacket provides a constant, gentle pressure that comforts pets. The effectiveness of these is hard to measure beyond owner testimonials, but it's worth a try.

Toss them a treat.

Much like slathering a little peanut butter on the wall while giving your dog a bath (sounds weird, maybe even gross, I know, but boy did it change the game with my extremely bath-averse dog.), a simple treat can totally help ameliorate a stressful situation for a food-motivated dog. If there's a super special treat they only get every once in a while, now would be the time to break it out.

Seek out a vet's prognosis.

And of course, if your dog has historically become fearful during fireworks and their anxiety is causing distress (for them and you!) it's time to set up a chat with the vet. An anti-anxiety medication may be the fix.

Act confident.

Finally, don't punish them for being afraid, but don't overly console them or act anxious yourself. They'll look to you to see if everything is normal, okay, and under control.

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Finally, a few friendly reminders:

Make sure they have their ID tags on, and microchips are even better. That way should they make a run for it, they can quickly be returned home safely.

Be careful with claims that essential oils can help calm dogs down. Even when diffused, essential oils can be very harmful to household dogs and cats.