It’s that time of the year again and the Fourth of July is just around the corner! For those with pets, the Fourth can be a stressful time but there are some ways to survive the holiday if your pets aren’t fond of fireworks and loud noises. Preparing before the fireworks start is a great way to help and there are some fun ways to do this – like going on very long walks to tire your dog(s) out during the day and listening to music or watching fun shows/movies at night. Make sure to also update your pet’s microchip information and have a recent photo too! Here are some more tips for dealing with the holiday.

NOTE: this post is meant to be a starting point for you to help your pets. None of the following should be construed as medical advice for your pets. You should always talk to your vet before giving your pets something like CBD oil or any sort of medication. Under no circumstances should you give your pets some of your own medication or edibles meant for humans. Additionally, the following is solely advice from Animals of the Pacific Northwest and does not reflect outside organizations.

Be Careful with Fireworks and Campfires*

*Or maybe consider skipping these things this year?

There are a few benefits to not setting off fireworks. First, pets, wildlife, and people who the noises could trigger can safely enjoy the weekend without the fear of periodic loud booms. The added and prolonged levels of stress that fireworks can bring to humans and animals can cause all sorts of issues. Second, fireworks can easily cause wildfires and injuries. People accidentally starting wildfires has, unfortunately, been a striking but predictable trend over the last few decades and with the current climate, it would be all too easy to start more catastrophic wildfires that destroy ecosystems, property, and lives. Between 1992 and 2015, more than 7,000 wildfires were started on July 4th in the United States and in 2018, there were an estimated 9,100 people injured because of fireworks. More than a third of those injuries were children under 15!

Third, fireworks have numerous negative impacts on wildlife. The pollution can cause health problems for animals while leftover debris and trash can easily clog up an ecosystem. For birds, studies have shown that fireworks cause adult birds to abandon their nests out of confusion and fear, fly into buildings, or suffer from weight loss and disrupted sleep patterns once returning to their nests. Even fireworks that are half a mile away have been known to negatively impact nesting birds.

Protect Your Pet From Fireworks

If you decide not to set off fireworks but still worry about them being set off around you, there are some ways to help your pets get through the loud noises. There are all sorts of calming treats that have melatonin or CBD. While the effects of CBD on pets haven’t been studied in depth, there is anecdotal evidence from many pet owners that suggest CBD products have helped their animals with anxiety, stress, and even arthritis. If you have some questions, please talk with your veterinarian! If CBD or hemp doesn’t work for your pets, consider talking with your vet about anti-anxiety medications.

There are a few other ways to make the holiday just a bit easier. First, take your dog for a long walk or run early on in the day. If it’s too hot to walk in your area, try cool activities like swimming, scent work, or puzzle toys. Anything you can do to tire your pet out without risking heat exhaustion can really help. These tips can work for all sorts of pets, including those that aren’t affected by calming treats (or even anti-anxiety medications).

For any pet, offer them a safe space at night that allows them to hide away in a cool, dark area if they feel like hiding. Keep any and all entryways and possible escapes closed so your pets don’t try to run off at the sound of fireworks. While you know that your home is the safest place for them, our pets don’t know that and might try to run off just to try and get away from the loud noises. Setting up white noise around the house can also help. Fans are particularly great for this weekend because, in addition to helping keep things cool, they can add an extra layer of noise to potentially soften firework booms. Consider turning on the television or radio. If you’re not planning to watch a show or movie, there are shows and music made specifically for dogs and cats that can help distract them!

Be Aware of the Heat and Sun

Just like humans, our pets can be negatively affected by high temperatures and sunny weather. Heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and even sunburns are all concerns you should be keeping an eye out for in yourself, other people, and your animals. Make sure you and your pets have consistent access to shade and clean, fresh water. While a significant amount of people in the Pacific Northwest don’t have air conditioning, there are methods to help keep you and your furry friends cool. Fans set up around the house can help keep air flowing and might help cool things down just a bit. You could also put a damp towel in the freezer for a bit before laying it on top of your pet. There are also cooling vests and mats that can help keep your dog cool on hot days and some dogs might even enjoy laying in a kiddie pool of cold water.

However, when trying to cool your pet down, be careful to not cool them down too quickly or do things that could cause unintended problems. For overheated dogs, ice baths or ice packs can be dangerous because rapid cooling can actually cause your dog’s blood vessels to contract and reduce blood flow. That, in turn, makes it much more difficult for your dog to cool down. Similarly, swimming in lakes, ponds, and rivers can be a wonderful thing for humans and animals alike. But look out for signs of algae, as there are some types that are toxic, and be wary of rivers with strong currents.

If you have a dog with a thick, double coat, it might seem like a good idea to shave them or at least give them a haircut. But those thick coats actually help these dogs regulate their temperatures and provide sun protection for their skin so it’s important that you do not shave these dogs! In the summer, most of their dense undercoat is gone and the outer layer of guard hairs allow cool air to circulate around your dog’s skin. Instead of shaving them, help your dog out by brushing them regularly with an undercoat rake to help get their undercoat out and to prevent painful mats or tangles from forming.

Finding A Lost Pet

Unfortunately, things can go wrong even if you do everything right and pets can go missing. Before that happens (if it does at all!), you should make sure your pet is microchipped and that the microchip information is up to date. Microchips are a permanent form of identification for your pets in case your pet’s collar/tags are lost. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, microchipping is injected under the skin using a hypodermic needle and no surgery or anesthesia is required. It’s a quick procedure and can be done at veterinary hospitals, clinics, or animal shelters. Microchips can be scanned at these places as well and provide staff who scan them with your contact information so your pet can be returned.

If your pet does go missing, the first thing is to search your home, yard, and neighborhood. Talk to your neighbors to see if they’ve seen your pet and if they could keep an eye out if possible. If it’s been a few hours and there’s still no sign of your pet, consider posting on social media platforms and different sites, like NextDoor, PetCo Love Lost, or Craigslist. You should also contact your local animal control department and/or animal shelter (sometimes they are the same!) about doing a lost pet walk-through and getting on their radar to see if they have your pet.

Cat Stuck In A Tree?

Unfortunately, sometimes cats get stuck in high places and can’t get down by themselves. If you find your cat in this situation and are in Western Washington, reach out to Canopy Cat Rescue, a non-profit run by two arborists with years of experience in both safely climbing trees and rescuing cats.

Phone: (877) 721-6369

  • Press 1 for King, Snohomish, Whatcom San Juan, Island, Chelan, and Kittitas Counties
  • Press 2 for Pierce, Lewis, Thurston, Mason, Jefferson, Clallam, Grays Harbor, Pacific, Wahkikum, Cowlitz, and Skamania Counties
  • Press 3 for the rest of Washington State counties and 4 for general inquires


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