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Happy 4th of July! 5 tips for keeping your pet safe from fireworks [Slideshow]

VPI lists six most common pet injuries related to Independence Day celebrations.

Parker and Tucker waiting for the celebration to start. (Contributed photo: Patricia L. Harman)
Parker and Tucker waiting for the celebration to start. (Contributed photo: Patricia L. Harman)

Communities across the United States will be starting their celebrations of Independence Day this week, with many businesses closed on July 3 for a long weekend. Most people are looking forward to parades, cookouts, and pool parties, often capping the day with a fireworks display. In my neighborhood, we have the official fireworks scheduled for July 2, and many households will be setting off their own “fireworks” throughout the weekend.

I love the display, but my two dogs hate the flashes of light and loud noises. Taran, my eight-year-old lab-pointer mix has severe anxiety issues on a good day, and he’ll hide in the dark for hours after the fireworks are over. Bella, my eight-year-old lab-hound mix, will curl up in a ball in her crate and ignore everyone.


Bella and Taran waiting patiently for dinner (Contributed photo: Rosalie L. Donlon)

To help you keep your pets safe during the holiday celebrations, Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. (VPI), a Nationwide company, encourages pet owners to plan ahead with these five safety precautions to ensure that their furry friends are safe during this year’s celebration.

Editor’s Note: The PC360 editorial staff is composed of dog owners who graciously shared photos of their pets. We’d love to see photos of your pets too, along with tips on how you keep them safe during Independence Day parties and fireworks. Please tweet your photos and comments to @PC360_Markets or add them to the comment section following this slideshow.


Rocky, getting comfortable on the couch (Contributed photo: Tim Sprinkle)

1. Set up a safe zone that is comfortable for your pet and will help block out noise. Loud noises from fireworks and other festivities can be stressful and terrifying for our pets. If your pets show signs of severe anxiety such as trembling or shaking, sudden urination, pacing or chewing, you may want to consult your veterinarian regarding options.

I’ve found that moving my pets to a dark room helps. Other dog owner friends have covered their dogs’ crates with blankets, which helps muffle the noise as well as cut down on light.


 Bailey looking for her water bowl (Contributed photo: Shawn Moynihan)

2. Leave out extra water bowls to ensure that your pet is hydrated during the day. It’s common for pet owners to forget how quickly their pets can become overheated in the warm summer weather.

I also put ice cubes in my dogs’ water bowls. They love the crunch and the fun of fishing the cubes out of the water. If they leave the ice to melt, it helps keep water in the bowl for them.


Jasper and his tennis ball (Contributed photo: Jayleen Heft)

3. Be aware of foods that could be toxic to your dog. Fatty foods from table scraps, garlic, onions, bones and raw meats can all cause stomach issues. Also, be sure to keep your pet away from any alcohol that could have been spilled.

If you’re not sure of what foods your pets should avoid, the ASPCA has a list on its website as well as information about animal poison control.


Come on in, the water’s fine! (Contributed photo: Rosalie L. Donlon)

4. Never assume your dog knows how to swim or likes the water. If you are attending a celebration with a pool, be sure that your dog is familiar with the edges of the pool. If your pets are allowed to swim, make sure they’re a comfortable swimmer and show them the steps to climb out of the pool.

I live near the ocean and my dogs have very different reactions to the water. Bella, the lab-hound mix, can’t wait to jump in and swim after the seagulls, while Taran, the lab-pointer mix, hates the feel of shifting sands under his feet (see above). Our beach is rocky, and they both like to climb, but they can easily fall between the crevices and get hurt.


Nahlah enjoying the park (Contributed photo: Melissa Hillebrand)

5. Never leave your pets unattended or tied up in the back yard, and always keep proper identification on them. Fear from fireworks could cause pets to run away. Dogs who attempt to jump a fence while tied down could strangle themselves.

Don’t count on an electric fence to restrain your dogs if they’re upset by fireworks or strangers. They can break through with the right triggers, and could be three streets away before you know it.

“The Fourth of July can be fun for us, but incredibly stressful for our pets,” said Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for VPI. “With the increase in dangers that surround our pets during this summer holiday, it’s important to be extra cautious. Pet owners should pay close attention to their animals’ physical safety and level of anxiety, generated from all of the irregular activity. Be sure to provide a comfortable place to relax away from the chaos and noise of the celebration.”


Ruby posing nicely on the landing (Contributed photo: Tim Sprinkle)

Most common pet injuries

VPI reminds pet lovers that the keys to a safe celebration are preparation and awareness. To bring attention to the potential dangers surrounding pets on Independence Day, VPI, sorted through its database of more than 525,000 insured pets to determine the most common Fourth of July related pet injuries. Below are the results:

Pet injury

Holiday Related Incident

Average Cost for Treatment




Heat Stroke

Hot Weather


Near Drowning

Falling in Pool



Collar Caught on Fence/ Jumping Fence while Tied Up Possibly Caused by Loud Noise of Fireworks



Eating Chocolate or Table Scraps/ Ingesting Alcohol



Breaking Through Glass Window or Fence


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