The two-week period around July 4th has the highest rate of lost pets all year. Stressed pets and distracted humans can be a disastrous combination, but you can prevent heartbreak with these tips.
Check your fences and gates for gaps! If your dog usually stays outside overnight, take him or her into your home, garage, dog run, or kennel for the next few nights instead. A contained area is safer, especially at night when you aren’t supervising your pet.
Stock up on comforting items if you know your pet is stressed by loud noises or visitors. Prepare some frozen Kong treats for your dog to chew in the kennel during fireworks displays and parties. If your pet responds well to comfort products like the Thundershirt, Adaptil, or Feliway, make sure you have a good supply on hand.
Note: If you want to try a Thundershirt on your dog, introduce it slowly over several days before the holiday. Put it on for short periods, and praise/treat your dog while it’s on. Steadily increase the time spent wearing it and make sure your dog is having a good time the whole time it’s on. Don’t try it for the first time when your dog is already scared and distracted! It will do more harm than good.
Set reminders for yourself to double-check all your doors and windows before fireworks start or party guests arrive. It’s a good idea to kennel your dog, especially during the start of the fireworks hours and at the beginning of a gathering when people are arriving.
Double-check your pet’s ID. Make sure your pet is wearing a collar AND tag, and that the tag has your CURRENT information on it! If your pet has a microchip, check with the chip company to make sure it has the right contact information listed. Take some photos of your pet that clearly show his or her markings, so you’ll have up-to-date pictures if your pet does go missing.
If your pet doesn’t have correct ID tags, use a permanent marker and write your phone number (with area code) on the collar in large clear writing.
Keep your dog on a leash when walking during the holiday week – you can’t predict when a neighbor might set off some early fireworks!
Have important phone numbers ready. Have your vet’s number and a pet poison control center’s number near at hand in case of emergencies. Most vets aren’t open on holidays, so list an emergency vet’s number, too. Put them in your phone or post them on the fridge where you can find them quickly if needed.
Know what to do if your pet is lost. Our “I Lost My Pet” guide can point you in the right direction.
Check your pet’s ID tags frequently. It’s important to have accurate ID tags on your pet at all times, so check at least once a day that your pet’s collar is still on and all tags are still attached.
While fireworks are going on, check your pet’s location quietly. Let the pet ‘hang out’ somewhere quiet and secure, like their kennel or an unused room. Provide distractions like chew toys or a game if your pet is interested. Praise him or her frequently and offer small treats for continuing to play when a firework explodes. Use the calming items you prepared earlier to reduce your pet’s stress.
Cat owners, be extra careful with your indoor cats! Check on them frequently to make sure you know where they are. Indoor cats can be very difficult to find if they get lost because a cat in unfamiliar territory instinctively wants to hide and keep quiet.
If you’re having a party, keep an eye on the doors and the dinner! Guests coming in and out provide opportunities for your pet to slip through a door without being noticed. Keep your pet away from the party while people are coming and going. If your pet wants to socialize, you can let him or her out to join the party once everyone is present.
During the party, keep food out of reach of your pets. Cooked bones, chocolate desserts, and other common foods are dangerous or toxic to pets, and it’s easy for an animal to take advantage of your distraction to grab a bite!
Keep dogs leashed. There’s still a good chance someone might set off some belated fireworks. There may be more trash around than usual, too, and your dog could be tempted to eat firework pieces or picnic scraps.
Look over your yard before letting your dog out. If your dog spends time outside unsupervised, walk all around your yard and remove any spent fireworks or garbage that could harm your pet.
Keep your eyes out for lost pets when you’re out and about. If you find one, see our “I Found A Pet” guide for how to help. You could be the one who saves a life and brings a lost family member home!