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July 9, 2014

Summer Safety: Pets and Fireworks Don’t Mix

Four tips for keeping your dogs, cats and other pets safe and happy during warm-weather celebrations

  • Loud noises can terrify pets, so don't include them when celebrations will include fireworks. The HSUS.

Many people enjoy the booming sounds and flashing lights of fireworks, but they can be overwhelming for your pets, and possibly hazardous.

Pets can become disoriented and frightened by the noise and commotion associated with fireworks displays and other loud celebrations.

On the Fourth of July, for instance, so many pets are frightened and try to escape the sights and sounds that animal shelters around the nation report a dramatic increase in lost pets during the holiday.

Help your pets keep their cool: Follow our four steps for making them safe during loud—and hot—warm weather festivities.

1. Keep your pet safely away from fireworks

Our pets are more sensitive to loud noises, flashing lights and strong smells than we are, so festivities, such as the Fourth of July, that include them may be terrifying. On that holiday—and a few days before and after, when people are likely to set off fireworks—it's best to leave your pets safely indoors, preferably with a radio or TV turned on to dampen jarring noises.

Even pets who are usually kept outdoors should be brought inside. And if you are going to an Independence Day event and cannot leave your pet unattended at home, keep her leashed and under your direct control at all times.

2. Ask your veterinarian for help if your pet is scared by fireworks

There are medications and techniques that might help alleviate your pet's fear and anxiety. Until your vet is available, try our suggestions for helping your dog cope with loud noises such as thunder and fireworks.

3. Protect your pet from the dangers of heat during summer festivities

Another reason to keep your pets away from the often noisy celebrations of summer is heat. High temperatures put your pet at risk of heat stroke, which can become deadly very quickly. Keep an eye on your pets and act immediately if you see any signs of heatstroke.

Learn more about keeping your pet safe in the heat »

Never leave your pet in a parked car, even if the day doesn’t seem that warm. Even when the temperature outside is a balmy 72 degrees, the temperature inside your car can rocket to a fatal 116 degrees in less than an hour’s time.

On an 85-degree day, the temperature inside a car—even with the windows cracked open—can reach 102 degrees within just 10 minutes. After 30 minutes, the temperature will reach 120 degrees. If you see a pet in a car on a warm day, take immediate steps to help him.

4. Safeguard your pet with a collar and I.D. tag

All pets, even those kept indoors full-time, should always wear collars with identification tags. Indoor-only pets can become so frightened during fireworks displays that they take desperate measures to escape the noise, including breaking through window or door screens.

Download and share our flyer about July 4th pet safety [PDF]

A collar and tag will give you a better chance of being reunited with your pet. It’s also a good idea to have your pet microchipped (and make sure to register your current contact information with the chip company).

If your pet does become lost, contact your local animal control and surrounding shelters immediately and follow the rest of The HSUS’s advice for finding your pet.

If you find a lost pet, either take her to the address on her tag or bring her to the local animal shelter so she can be reunited with her family.

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