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All articles here are written by Melinda Briana Epler (that's me!) unless otherwise noted. I'm a documentary filmmaker, writer, and brand experience designer - I've dedicated my life to living a sustainable lifestyle and helping others do the same. Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or thoughts for articles. Welcome!

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Take Special Care Of Your Animals On July 4th

Melinda, Matt, & Grace (16 years old) - 2005


For those of us in the US, July 4th can be incredibly festive:  parties, music, and fireworks throughout the neighborhood.  Some animals, no matter how tempered they normally are, can become frightened from the sounds and activity, combined with the loneliness.

Over the years, I have rescued several dogs who were scared out of their minds and running aimlessly through the neighborhoods on July 4th.  Fortunately each time, I was able to connect the pooches with their families within a couple of days.  The stories varied:  from families who were out of town and someone was house sitting (“they just flew by me when I walked into the house”), to families who’d left their dog in the yard only to find they’d dug a hole under the fence (“he’s been left in the yard for years and never dug a hole once”), to families who were just gone for a few moments and the dog jumped out of a window – or in one case, the dog jumped through a closed window.

Another family was afraid to leave their dog at home, so they took it with them to the fireworks display.  It took only seconds for the dog to chew through it’s leash and tear away through the crowd.  They think it had tried to run home (which was 4 miles away).

Cats can get scared, too.  As can horses, chickens, and any other animals.  Whether you live in the US or in another part of the world, large festivities can be hard on all pets. So please be careful and think through ways to calm your pets and make them safe.

I don’t mean to scare anyone, I just want to help protect you and your animals.  Our pets are a part of our family, as I think they are for most of us here – and for us, family safety and well-being are important aspects of living sustainably. 

The Humane Society suggests several ways to help keep your pets safe:

  1. Resist the urge to take your pet to fireworks displays.

  2. Do not leave your pet in the car. With only hot air to breathe inside a car, your pet can suffer serious health effects—even death—in a few short minutes. Partially opened windows do not provide sufficient air, but they do provide an opportunity for your pet to be stolen.

  3. Keep your pets indoors at home in a sheltered, quiet area. Some animals can become destructive when frightened, so be sure that you’ve removed any items that your pet could destroy or that would be harmful to your pet if chewed. Leave a television or radio playing at normal volume to keep him company while you’re attending Fourth of July picnics, parades, and other celebrations.  [Also makes sure to close the windows and lower the blinds.  You may even consider putting your pet in his or her crate, if it's something that makes them feel safe.]

  4. If you know that your pet is seriously distressed by loud noises like thunder, consult with your veterinarian before July 4th for ways to help alleviate the fear and anxiety he or she will experience during fireworks displays.

  5. Never leave pets outside unattended, even in a fenced yard or on a chain. In their fear, pets who normally wouldn’t leave the yard may escape and become lost, or become entangled in their chain, risking injury or death.

  6. Make sure your pets are wearing identification tags so that if they do become lost, they can be returned promptly. Animals found running at-large should be taken to the local animal shelter, where they will have the best chance of being reunited with their owners. [Also consider getting your pet microchipped, in case the tag or collar falls off.]

  7. If you plan to go away for the holiday weekend, please read Caring for Pets When You Travel.

And then, enjoy your holiday!!


The above photo is Matt and I with Grace in 2005 – Grace lived a happy and full life of 16 years.

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8 comments to Take Special Care Of Your Animals On July 4th

  • This is all so important. I’ve started really disliking the Fourth of July because one of my dogs is distressed so much by the fireworks. It isn’t the big firework displays either, it’s the little stuff that is bought at the corner that is considered “legal” and the fireworks that are taken off the reservations. My vet suggested a trip to Canada, that anything she would be able to give me would just keep Briar from jumping out the window. I’ve found that running a fan and turning the radio on loudly helps somewhat.

  • Great reminder. Thanks. I keep my dog inside; but he’s not at all nervous. However, I recommend having some music playing or the have the TV or radio on to disguise the commotion.

  • This is a great reminder about the 4th. As great a farm dog as my pooch is, she is still gun shy and fireworks scare the heck out of her.

    My pooch:

  • Red Icculus, she’s a beautiful dog – and LOVE the tongue!

    Maybelline, than you for the advice.

    Deb G, Grace (in the pic above) was also scared of the fireworks, so we usually stayed home on the 4th to keep her company. The last few years, we had a tradition of driving down the freeways, looking at the fireworks displays and all the small neighborhood fireworks. She loved being in the car, and this way the sound was totally drowned out for her. And for us, it was a fun excursion. Not exactly environmentally-friendly, of course….

  • Wow, Grace was beautiful …

    I know this may sound odd in the same comment, but … I don’t think I’ve seen Matt before. Wow, you know how to pick ‘em! :)

    I have seen horses smash themselves through fences and run down the road limping, tossing their heads wildly, during fireworks. You are not exaggerating one bit!

  • Michelle

    There’s an Ani DiFranco song with lyrics about how the birds think the whole world is ending-but they didn’t know we were only pretending…I always thought it was an apt description of how the animal world thinks on the 4th.

  • Dorothy Brandow

    I admire your blog , it has of lot of information. You just got a perennial visitor of this blog.

  • The holidays are a time when pets can be forgotten about. Sage advice.

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