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4th of July and Your Pet

Happy 4th of July - let's stay home together!
1RN2GSD (Christine K) [Flickr]
Happy 4th of July - let's stay home together!

The Fourth of July is a day to celebrate America, but it's important to remember that the safety of our family is the most important consideration.  If your family includes a pet, it's up to you to keep them safe to enjoy all the family celebrations for years to come.


I saw an ad inviting everyone to have a blast at the Fourth of July Celebration. That’s a clever turn of phrase, since a “blast” can refer to having a really fun time and also to an explosion, like fireworks. It surely seems that the bright bursts of color have come to represent the holiday while they remind us of the fight for independence that gave birth to our nation. Animals also are a part of our American heritage.

In colonial times they were work animals, hauling goods, plowing land, carrying passengers. They helped humans hunt for food. Along the way they became our friends and companions, and remain so to this day. Even the horse, once so vital to our country – think of Paul Revere’s ride – is now kept mostly for recreational riding.

A lot of Americans keep dogs and cats as pets, enjoying their companionship. Many of us consider them part of the family. So it’s not unexpected that we would want to include them in our uniquely American holiday – Independence Day, which usually includes outdoor activities, like barbecues, and the fireworks that light up the night sky.

Unfortunately, what for us is a time of fun and celebration can become a time of terror for our animal friends. Their ears are much more sensitive than ours; to them, the sound of exploding fireworks can be painful and frightening. A dog that may ordinarily be calm around crowds of people could become very anti-social if panicked by the intense noise.

If you plan to take your pet with you to outdoor events, make arrangements to leave before the fireworks begin. If you decide to attend without your pet, don’t leave it outside unattended. Every year, shelters receive a number of rescued pets who managed to get out and run away in an attempt to escape the noise.

The best approach might be to stay home with your best friend and watch the fireworks on TV. After all, that’s why you have a pet, for the companionship. So celebrate that relationship by spending time with each other, a great American tradition, when you’re speaking of pets.


Mindy Norton has been “Speaking of Pets” on Alabama Public Radio since 1995.
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